Postcard from The Staterooms: Ball tampering and blog fixing edition

Dear Reader,

I write this week with news, that owing to the exigencies of the international betting market, I had to post my weekly *Postcard* on Monday, as opposed to Sunday.  This has resulted in a lot of greedy, venal, f**ks making a great deal of money.  No money changed hands with me, of course, and recent pictures in the News of The World showing me counting a large amount of money are published out of context.  I quite often spend a happy hour or so of an evening   counting my money and on the evening that particular picture was taken, I was, in fact, watching an episode of The Dragon’s Den and I wanted to get in the mood for the programme.  Context and evidence based analysis and reporting is all.

Talking of greedy, venal, peopleJohn Bolch brings news, on a tweet,  of the well deserved bank holiday for bankers.

So… to Twitter…

Law blogger Jack of Kent a serial twitter user as well – writes with passion (and knowledge)  about the law and backs up his views with practical pro bono support for others  where is able to do so. After being hauled over the coals/challenged by the Transgender community for daring to post about practical issues – he has explained why he is a liberal and what this means to him. What is liberalism?

I don’t always agree with Jack of Kent’s analyses but respect the way he puts analysis and comment together. This does not, of course, mean that I am right.  It just means that I don’t always agree.

There are dangers in all blogging, and the use of twitter,  that the blogger or twitterer will get what I choose to call Popeitis – an infallibility complex. This is rather more dangerous than sitting on top of mountains for a while and then descending with tweets of stone to educate the assembled multitude.

The Social Media Maven pronounces (2010)
Oil on Canvas
Charon

The third category of danger, and one that Jack of Kent may well be ‘guilty’ of, is what I call Zeusitis – sitting on top of a mountain and hurling a few thunderbolts about to wind up Libertarians and other members of the knee jerking and ranting classes. I may well have done a bit of this myself on occasion.  I say ‘danger’ because tweeters seeing Zeusitis tweets are particularly likely to come scurrying out of their lairs – especially late of an evening when over refreshed – and tweet like a beserker or, indeed, if others join in, tweet en masse like a group of Beserkers on a quick raid down the Northumberland coastline.  This, I think, is fair game – they, the Libertarians and ranters, are more than able to cope.  I do enjoy debating with Jack of Kent and, being that it is a debate and not a hearing before a court of justice, I am more than prepared to use every means at my debating disposal to ‘win’ the point – including obfuscation, dissimulation, treachery, blackops and even a bit of law thrown in to spice it up a bit.  Few, I hope, regard this as attacking Jack of Kent – who needs no help from anyone in defending himself!  Fight the good fight, Jack.  Never surrender!

And talking of knee jerking – here is an amusing parody of Iain Dale’s DiaryIain Fale’s Diary

Twitter may also be used to put the boot in….

Tom Harris MP wrote a well reasoned piece on the Save The NHS campaign being pushed by Prezza – making the not unreasonable point that Labour also planned to cut NHS Direct in favour of another NHS proposition – 111.

Tom replied to Prezza with this: @johnprescott I’m sorry you want to make personal comments about me, John. I’ll stick to the politics (fortunately for you).

I rather like the idea of an experienced MP – here a Labour MP –  taking a point of principle, being honest and open and not knee jerking or responding along *Tribal* lines.

Well… the silly season ends with the end of the bank holiday and I am quite pleased that autumn approaches and I can get back to some semblance of commenting on law and do a spot of work.

Best, as always

Charon

Caught, bowled and stumped… sorry… was I supposed to do that in the 3rd or 4th over?!

Chatting to  a  local who knows a fair bit about cricket this morning while having a coffee at the caff –  He wasn’t surprised about the revelations in the News of The World this morning…saddened for fans, yes… but not surprised.  Tragic.  Hopefully this mess will be cleaned up along with Cricket – truly great game.

Match-fixer pockets £150k as he rigs England Test at Lord’s

News of The World

And there was I thinking that Clegg was a Messiah…. wrong again !

Nick Clegg acknowledges Liberal Democrat ‘anxieties’

Guardian: Deputy PM says next month’s Lib Dem party conference could be difficult, but insists ‘debate is not a bad thing’

I did enjoy this quote from The Guardian…..

Clegg has faced criticism from fellow MPs as well as rank-and-file party members. The veteran Lib Dem MP Mike Hancock said on Tuesday that Clegg would face a “sticky” party conference, after the Institute for Fiscal Studies concluded that the coalition government’s June budget was regressive.

“We didn’t sign up for a coalition that was going to hurt the poorest people in society, and I certainly didn’t get elected to do that ever,” Hancock said.

Clegg said next month’s conference could be difficult, but “debate and people expressing their views is not a bad thing”.

I agree.. people expressing their views and YouGov/Sun polls indicating Lib-Dem support running at 12% for some weeks now is, probably/possibly/ineluctably, a fair indication of *sentiment*.

I shall be tuning in to the Lib-Dem conference this year.  Perhaps we shall see a new political party being born? Who knows.  Not even Nostracharondamus predicted that we would have a Lib-Dem DPM running the country while Cameron is on leave. All empires die eventually… but the unusual factor about the Lib-Dem *empire* is that they managed to lose it without actually having an empire in the first place.  But there we are…..

Law Review: An even more daft idea from a magistrate

A week or so ago I wrote, reasonably seriously, about a half baked plan to have Magistrates Courts set up in shopping malls – an idea that The Magistrates Association appears to have retreated from.

Law Review: Magistrates call for courts in shopping centres – a parody?

Unfortunately, another even less baked idea has been put forward by a magistrate… as reported in The Guardian today.  I am grateful to @BristolRed for the tip off to The Guardian report.

The Guardian reports: “Any takers for the justice bus? This unlikely sounding proposition, a mobile court travelling far-flung parts of the country dispensing justice, was floated recently, along with the idea of “pop-up” courts in supermarkets.

Both were suggested as ways of preserving local justice in the face of the huge court closure plan. Ministers want to save £15.3m by redrawing the justice map and closing 157 magistrates and county courts.

…. “As for the justice bus, a Norwich JP, Diana Reid, has in mind a decommissioned double-decker to take justice to remote communities. In a recent article for the Magistrates Association magazine, she describes the Tardis-like properties of the vehicle: “Upstairs are the supporting admin staff, and a separated area for the lawyers. On the lower level the space is divided into a very small waiting area; the ‘court room area’ and a very small ‘retiring area’.” Quite; there’s not much room for dignity, let alone anything else.”

It might be a good idea for Ken Clarke, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice to have a look at some of the people who are magistrates as part of his review of criminal justice – if these ideas are popping into the minds of those who are dispensing justice on the cheap?

Twitter often comes up with a pithy comment and I think @djhanks has hit the nail on the head with this one worder  tweet….

Law Review: Charon the ‘Agony Uncle’? – Welcome to Kevin Beare & Co

Dear Charon,

“I’m an NQ lawyer suffering a minor spiritual crisis. I am quite enjoying the work so far, but my problem is that I look around the office at the partners, all of whom are perfectly pleasant, but rather dull and grey, and think: ‘That’s me in 15-20 years’.

No, I have not set up in business as an ‘Agony Uncle’.  This came from a wonderful article in Legal Week where the writer asked the perfectly reasonable question:

Do big personalities exist at law firms?

The comments are marvellous as well… here is a taster…well worth a read.

The drive to institutionalise clients has also contributed to this, which is why a lot of partners are really just senior account managers. It’s only odd that lawyers then scratch their heads and ask why clients struggle to differentiate them. But the upside is that there are less loony, racist, bullying, sexual harassing, alcoholics kicking around the Square Mile, so it’s swings and roundabouts really.


Your post reminds me of my in-house colleagues’ horror story about a boozy dinner with her husband’s (big, corporate) firm. She was sat between one partner who kept saying “see, what you’ve got to understand about me is, I’m really, REALLY clever!” while the partner on the other side slurred “you know, when I draft a perfect clause in a contract, it’s just the most beautiful feeling in the world!”

I am sure there are some very amusing lawyers out there – but I suspect they can be forgiven, in their daily lives at the coal face, for not exhibiting their more ‘eccentric’ side.  There are, of course, crashingly dull ones as well. But have you ever attended a conference of greedy business people? Now… therein lies boredom.  There are still some ‘unusual’ characters at the Bar though.

My online magazine doesn’t write itself and I am always grateful to those who (a) sponsor the free student materials and (b) who contribute. Kevin Beare & Co are doing both and hopefully lawyers and other will find their articles linked on Insite Law from their own blog useful to their work and lives. Kevin Beare & Co are Chartered Accountants to overseas companies operating in the UK. They focus their marketing activities solely on companies wishing to enter the UK, or who are already here with overseas parents.  Kevin Beare has operated as Finance Director/CFO for subsidiaries of multinationals, and in 1992 started his own practice. For over 20 years Kevin’s aim has been to provide cost-effective CFO resources to overseas companies operating in the UK.

What particularly interested me, talking to Paul Beare, Kevin’s son, is that  Kevin’s business model  is structured around local, qualified part-time employees working child friendly hours. Indeed written into the contracts of the team are child friendly clauses including specifically allowing time off to attend Nativity shows.  This must be a sensible option for some smaller law firms?  I don’t know – I don’t practice,  but I do know that when I was running a law school I was very much the beneficiary of very bright women solicitors and barristers who were able to teach part-time and bring up their children with hours which were convenient to them.

Here are a few links to give you a taste. Insite Law will be covering information provided through Kevin Beare & Co’s blog where it  will be of value to lawyers and others who read my blog.

Kevin Beare & Co – Chartered Accountants to overseas companies operating in the UK

Doing business online

July Investment news

VAT Schemes for Small Businesses


Lawcast 167: Oliver Wharmby, Priest & Co, on Professional Indemnity Insurance for Solicitors

Lawcast 167: Oliver Wharmby, Priest & Co, on Professional Indemnity Insurance for Solicitors

Professional Indemnity Insurance for solicitors is a matter of great importance – without it, solicitors cannot practice. I talk to Oliver Wharmby of Priest & Co, lloyds Insurance Brokers on the the current state of play in the insurance market which is by no means as straightforward as, perhaps, it was in previous years with Quinm not re-entering the solicitors professional indemnity insurance (PII) market this year in England & Wales.

We discuss:

1.  Introduction – what is PI – what does it cover and why do solicitors have to have it  – how much cover do big / small firms typically arrange? – any maximum on payout?  – What about excess?

2.  What is the scale of claims – roughly how many each year – value of claims – who are the biggest claimers / biggest risk

3.  Who provides the Insurance – qualifying insurer – how many – effect of Quinn / Hiscox – how difficult is insurance to get?  – what do insurers look for?  – difference between major Magic Circle firm and small practice – premium differential.

4.  When do solicitors need to get their Insurance organised by?

5. What if no-one will cover a firm?

6. What is the outlook for the forthcoming renewal season?

7.When is the best time to be obtaining quotes?

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

(Due to internet connectivity issues – there is a very short passage midway where sound quality deteriorates.  It is, however, brief)

***

Priest and Co are Lloyds Insurance Brokers and specialists in Professional Indemnity Insurance for the legal profession. They are happy to work in a broker capacity approaching the markets they have access to, but also in an advisory role to ensure all markets have been approached. They also have access to a distressed market for those firms that have no other alternative but the assigned risk pool.

If you would like some advice or to discuss matters with Oliver Wharmby – he would be delighted to assist.  You may contact him by email or through his office at Priest & Co

Email
Tel: 0207 648 4122

The Law Society require that cover is provided through a qualifying insurer and in line with the minimum requirements. Because the Law society require cover to be so broad, there are very few insurers that are willing to provide the insurance. This creates a lack of supply for the large demand. There are roughly 12,000 law firms in the UK with one renewal date on 1st October.

Law Society Update

PII support

Quinn update

We have just learned that Quinn Insurance Limited has confirmed that it will not be re-entering the solicitors’ professional indemnity insurance (PII) market in England and Wales this year.

Articles worth looking at to follow up on this topic

http://www.thelawyer.com/trouble-indemnity/1005184.article

http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/blogs/news-blog/act-fast-avoid-pii-misery

http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/zurich-cut-new-pii-business-significantly

http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/chartis-delivers-professional-indemnity-insurance-blow

Great Leaders of our Times: Deputy Chairman Mao Tse Clegg

I have come up with a new idea to accompany my Smokedo exercises.  I have decided to walk for precisely 30 minutes and see how far I get and then walk back.  This will ensure that I walk for at least one hour daily and have a random experience.  Today, I started from Battersea Square and ended up at Sloane Square Tube station.  While I was tempted to get on a 319 bus back to Battersea Bridge I resisted – and then got completely soaked in the deluge. Tomorrow, I hope to get further for my 30 minutes… and so on.  I could end up in Birmingham with a bit of practice, dedication and effort – and then what will I do?

Silly Season News

After implausible tales of a rogue long distance swimming salt water crocodile terrorising French and English bathers in the English Channel last week in The Sun (It turned out, predictably, to be a large log),  we have the equally implausible story of the football loving Coalition government backing the Ingerland World Cup hosting bid –  with Mao Tse Clegg, deputy prime minister, saying our bid is ‘unbeatable’. (BBC)  [I like a bit of good old Ingerlish ‘hubris’.  I remember that the Ingerland footer team is ‘unbeatable’… well…. they did win the 1066 World Cup when the team was captained by The Duke of Normandy]

You will note that he did not say that the Ingerland football team is ‘unbeatable’. That would be an incredible thing to say, even for a running dog imperialist historico-political revisionist who has ‘Road to Damascus’ moments most days when he recants on his previously held Lib-Dem views expressed before the election.   You will also note that he tells FIFA that England, as opposed to Ingerland, has a passion for football.  This may or may not be true.  I did not notice many Ingerland or England supporters actually watching the World Cup on television in the Battersea Square bars after Ingerland knocked themselves out of the last World Cup in Vuvuzela Land.

I don’t actually care whether England hosts the 2018 World Cup or not – but there again, my interest in the London Olympics is also close to zero – unless they allow the athletes to enhance their performance with drugs.  As I have often said – I’d pay good money to see a man jump 70 ft into the air or do 100 metres faster than Clarkson can do it in a Bugatti Veyron.  I suppose one advantage of hosting the World Cup is that Ingerland would actually get into the first round without having to go through the unpleasant and angst ridden business of ‘qualifying’ and we could come up with some annoying ‘gimmick’ to equal the Vuvuzela and get everyone to sing Rule Britannia when Ingerland get knocked out in the second round.   It is not known how many of the present public school dominated Cabinet even know what a football is. Perhaps a Freedom of Information request?

And talking of Freedom of Information requests…. Guido Fawkes has an interesting one on his blog this morning…..

Just Asking

Guido asks…… for information about Christopher Mayers (25) former driver to William Hague – and now a Special Adviser…  I can do no better than quote Guido: “Seems odd that young Christopher Myers (25) should go from driving William Hague (49) around his constituency during the election to become his third SpAd. According to Peter McLay the FCO says the Foreign Secretary “needs another adviser because he has additional responsibilities, having bagged the Peter Mandelson title of First Secretary of State. Perhaps so, but Mandelson didn’t hire young friends as special advisers, so far as I know.” Quite.”

And some far from silly, silly season news….

The cruel and unusual punishment of Teresa Lewis

The case of the first woman to be executed in Virginia for a century highlights America’s death row shame.

Alex Hannaford writing in the Guardian: “On 23 September, 40-year-old Teresa Lewis will become the first woman to be executed in the state of Virginia for almost a century. She’ll also be the first woman put to death in the US since 2005. Considering that, in the intervening five years, around 220 men will have been executed, it puts it into perspective: executing women is unusual. Of more than 1,200 executions carried out since the US supreme court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, only 11 were of women. And each time that happens, it’s stunningly bad PR for an increasingly unpopular facet of the American justice system…..

Hannaford reminds us: “And later this year, there’s a good chance that a British passport holder, 51-year-old Linda Carty, will join Lewis. I have written about Carty before: her trial was seriously flawed, and if, like Lewis, she is also given a 2010 execution date, it will draw even more attention to the US’s dire record on capital punishment.”

I am a fan of America and the Americans I know – BUT: I deplore their use of the death penalty – it puts them on a moral par with those states which employ stoning as a means of punishment. And before we get the absurd argument that putting someone to death by electrocution, gas or lethal injection is ‘more humane’ (it may well not be – Ronnie Lee Gardner chose to have five men shoot him to death with rifles rather than have lethal injection in Utah recently) – the result is the same: State sanctioned murder. It is only fair to point out that not all states in the USA use the death penalty and many Americans are against it.

So… back to some silly Silly Season news…where else, but The Sun?

First up….

Olly: I’m furious with my twit bro – OLLY Murs says he’s ‘disgusted’ with twin brother for claiming he tore their family apart

Yawn….

And for Sun readers with an unusually low libido or who need a ‘saucy’ good old British seaside postcard to assist them……

Peek-a-boob, Bey

BEYONCE and Jay-Z move their holiday on to France – but star obviously forgets her bra

And over at SCROUNGER WATCH…..


THE benefits scrounger who is dad to 11 kids and has one on the way has fathered yet another – by the BEST FRIEND of his missus.

The Sun

But at least over at the refined world of Cricket which is no longer administered world wide from Lords in London by the MCC but from Dubai – wherever that is …. this from Ricky Ponting…

Ponting: You’re not real Poms

RICKY PONTING fired up the Ashes phoney war, taunting England for a lack of true Poms

I have now lost the will to continue… enjoy your day.

Need a solicitor in Wakefield? – well, no better place to find one than this astonishing website

I was fairly certain that Wakefield is in West Yorkshire, but for reasons which will become clear I confirmed that this is the case by using Google maps.  Hat Tip to @Crime Counsel on twitter for drawing my attention to this extraordinary website promoting ‘Wakefield’ solictors which appears to have been translated from the original Russian into English using Google Translate or Babelfish

Will I need a Solicitor or Barrister in Wakefield?

Increasingly, a difference between barristers and solicitors has proved to become obscured because some solicitors secure the position in order to symbolise his or her clients in during later stages of legal proceedings and a growing amount of barristers deliver legal advice as well as the work conducted in court.

Helpfully, The draftsman – who may, as @Crime Counsel observed, have played a part of drafting Criminal Justice legislation, goes on to reveal….

Solicitors in Wakefield

Usually, solicitors provided advice for clients and, in criminal trials or litigation instances, organized their matters for them whereas the principle role of barristers would be to represent them at court. Yet, your initial point of contact will typically be the solicitors organisation. While a number of barristers will accept direct instructions from clients (mainly commercial kinds, especially pertaining to tax and insolvency), the large majority are not and are only addressed by means of a solicitor.
Even so, many that do, can often prove less expensive than utilizing a solicitor yet you have to understand how to utilize barristers and not hold expectations of the clerical backing supplied with a legal practice.
Solicitor: a Solicitor will be qualified and skilled who will have achieved post-graduate certification as well as a 2 year work placement including training….

It does get worse…..or, if you fancy a laugh….better…

It appears that the web developers may have consulted the very helpful web guide for ‘Other Law Firms’  produced by Muttley Dastardly LLP here and here (Get your ass out there)

Muttley Dastardly LLP Episode 1: Deoxyribonucleic Acid

PODCAST VERSION: MUTTLEY DASTARDLY LLP – EPISODE 1

Eva Braun walked into the waiting area outside Matt Muttley’s office on the top floor, elegantly dressed in a dark tailored suit and black court shoes. “Mr Muttley will see you now.  I will show you in.”

James Harrison, confirmed as an associate with the firm only three weeks before, walked into the large darkened office and was invited to sit in a high backed chair facing Muttley’s desk, but set back exactly ten feet away. The chair, inspired by art nouveau concepts, was made of metal with a curious curved back which made it difficult for the person sitting in it to sit comfortably or with any degree of elegance.  Harrison decided to perch on the front section of the seat and put up with the discomfort.

“Well, good morning James.  Do the names Friedrich Miescher, Francis Crick or James D. Watson mean anything to you?  If I was to  tell you that polymerases are enzymes that synthesize polynucleotide chains from nucleoside triphosphates,  would you find that inordinately fascinating or even know what I was talking about?”  Matt Muttley sat back in his chair and put his hands behind his neck, his expression expectant.

“I do not know the people you mention.  I am certainly not dealing with their files at present.   And I would have to say that I would not find the information you have given me on polymerases of any immediate interest, simply because I have no idea what they are and they are not germane to any of the files I am working on currently.”

“If I was to say….. Deoxyribonucleic acid… would this assist you in your thinking….? thinking in relation to a personal matter which has been drawn to my attention by our covert surveillance unit headed by Dr Erasmus Strangelove, our esteemed Director of Education and Strategic Information.

James Harrison paused before answering, glanced upwards, noticed a discreet cctv camera pointing straight at him and answered “You are talking about DNA, but how is that relevant to my work here?”

“Spot on James.  Let me tell you where I am coming from on this, to borrow from the well worn phrase used by James Caan on Dragon’s Den.  We routinely monitor the internet traffic of all members of the firm.  This is covered in clause 1441 of your employment contract. We chose 1441 as the clause for this as a bad joke to reflect our view that it was our ‘weapon of mass destruction’.  We issue iPads to all our employees not because we are philanthropists, but because we want you to work, work and work some more.  We want the first thing you reach for in the morning to be your iPad and the last thing you touch at night to be your iPad. I understand that Eversheds have taken a similar policy of issuing iPads to all their fee earners – but I rather suspect that their intentions are honourable, while ours are not.  This is covered in Clause 1441(d)(viii) of your contract of employment.  Dr Strangelove, during his routine sweep of Facebook accounts, noticed that a woman by the implausible name of Squirrelnutkin 4 wrote on your ‘Wall’.  This is what she wrote…”

Muttley flicked his fingers over his goldplated iPad – a gift from a company one of the Dragons had invested in, but not signed, fortunately,  by Frank Lampard on the back.

Muttley quoted: “Hello Bigboy Jimmy Babes…. Have I got NEWS for you!  You remember that night of erotic passion and entirely random sex we had after you took me to that nightclub?  Well…. I am pregnant…. seriously pregnant….and it is yours!!  I hope you are earning a lot of money at that crazy law firm you are working at… because Jimmy Babes… you are going to need it.  I have engaged the services of JAWS, one of the most famous family lawyers in Britain… and, boy… is he coming after you… big time.!”

The colour drained from Harrison’s face and his forehead went clammy.

“A glass of water, James?”  Muttley asked, a dry smile playing on his lips.

“Er… no… not thank you Mr Muttley”

“We look after our staff at Muttley Dastardly.  We also look after ex-staff.  Clearly, it cannot be acceptable for a firm of our stature and reputation to employ lawyers who randomly impregnate people, and even if you are found ‘not guilty’ as we say in our business, we certainly can’t employ someone who goes around on Facebook calling himself BigBoy Jimmy Babes. Do you watch the Dragon’s Den, James?”

“No… I don’t have time.”

“But you do watch The Apprentice. We know this from your internet traffic records.  Well…as SurAlan, now Lord SurAlan, would say… You’re Fired!  Eva Braun will give you a black bag with your belongings, your severance pay and the telephone number of Cellmark – the DNA testing specialists.  We use them all the time here… for our clients.  We didn’t imagine having to use them for one of our staff…. or, indeed, ex-staff.”

Harrison stared at Matt Muttley, puzzlement clear in his eyes… “You mean I’m out?”

Muttley smiled.  “Yes… you’re OUT!  Goodbye.  Oh….do look at the section on the Cellmark website What is the process for DNA testing – a most useful video. The baby, after all, may not be yours. We would, of course, be happy to represent you if you fight.  I regret that we do not do discounts for anyone – although Partners get all our services free. ”

***

PODCAST VERSION: MUTTLEY DASTARDLY LLP – EPISODE 1

***

With thanks to Inksters Solicitors ,
Cellmark, OnlineWill.co.uk, BPP University College, David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Wildy & Sons, Camps Solicitors accident claims

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F**kART: “Evil Dave”

“Evil Dave” came from a well known web pic of David Cameron. Using my new *Painting by Numbers* technique; reducing tone and shape to essential colour blocks – I can knock these out quickly enough to stop me getting bored.  When I was in my early twenties one of my nicknames was ‘Risotto’ – ready in 20 minutes.  I tend to favour paintings or drawings which can be done quickly.  I blame all forms of government, modern technology and an inbuilt, but very British, tendency for shallowness and ephemera!

The split down the middle reflects my view that Cameron is, actually, a rather nice chap and  a true liberal;  but has to play Tory and do the business because he just happens to be our prime minister and leading a party, whose members, some of them, judging by their comments on blogs and other media, are orf the bleeding wall when it comes to humanity and caring for the interests of the wider community.   The title of the piece is a deliberate falsehood; consistent with the times we live in of smears, obfuscation, smuggery, Toby Youngery, venality, brutal self interest and crassness! (Just to get a few thoughts orf my chest)  – I don’t think Cameron is evil at all. In fact… I’d be quite happy to vote for him if he defected to Labour!

Having a glass or two and doing a bit on nonsense art (mixed media these days!)  keeps me amused.  I could be out raping the people of Britain by working in an investment bank or making things using child or foreign ‘slave’ labour and hedging my earnings offshore.  I’d rather earn a lot less and enjoy Britain.

Law Review: Surge in Britons exported for trial

Surge in Britons exported for trial

The number of people in Britain seized under the controversial “no-evidence-needed” European Arrest Warrant rose by more than 50 per cent last year, figures obtained by The Sunday Telegraph show.

The Telegraph reports: “In total 1,032 people – almost three a day – were detained and extradited by British police on the orders of European prosecutors in the 12 months to April, up from 683 in 2008-09. The Home Office expects a further 70 per cent rise, to 1,700 cases, next year. The increase will fuel growing political concern about the “unfair” and “disproportionate” nature of the warrants, which British courts have little power to challenge……

They can spend long periods in jail – here and abroad – for crimes which might not even have been prosecuted in Britain. They can also be seized for offences which are not crimes in Britain.Foreign prosecutors do not have to present evidence to the British courts, just demand the person be “surrendered”……

Mr Blunkett said: “I was right, as Home Secretary in the post-9/11 era, to agree to the European Arrest Warrant, but I was insufficiently sensitive to how it might be used.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The Government is committed to reviewing the UK’s extradition arrangements.”

The Telegraph notes: “Britain has the same rights to request no-evidence extraditions from other EU countries, but uses the power sparingly. The latest figures show that 98 people were brought to the UK on European Arrest Warrants in 12 months, a fall of 6 per cent on the year before.” It would seem, on the bare facts above, that while we are keen to export our people, we are less than keen on importing offenders – perhaps, being cynical, this is just too much of an effort and costs too much?

I am sure that the European Arrest warrant is valuable and ‘warranted’ in the more serious crimes – but driving without insurance, driving off without paying at a petrol station?  I’m not so sure in the case of minor fines which could, surely, be dealt with by fine and paid by credit card with agreement of the person charged?

Law Review: Britain scraps annual assessment of human rights abuses across the world

The new Coalition government, or Tory government propped up by Tory Lite if you prefer, is keen to do business with India, China, in fact, any country it can do business with.  This is perfectly understandable and some might say laudable.  Do I, however, want to buy goods produced under conditions tantamount to slave labour or worse, child labour?  Do I want to associate with countries where human rights atrocities are routinely sanctioned by the state?  Do I want to associate with one party states where, in the name of a  god or some form of deity or prophet, the rights of women are downgraded to have less value to the men than their exotic motor cars and houses?  I don’t – but it seems that a great many of us do. But  I don’t have a choice, you don’t have a choice –  because our government may well force us indirectly to turn a blind eye to these through our need to reduce the deficit and promote the interests of what David Cameron referred to as the ‘sharp elbowed middle classes’.  And there was I thinking, naively, that Britain in the 21st century was at last moving away from the class system!

The government proposes to stop recording human rights abuses across the world, a process first established by then Foreign Secretary Robin Cook in the name of ethical foreign policy.

My observations on the need to trade with the ‘Good, the bad and the ugly’ will be met, possibly, by the easy retort that the last Labour government caused the deficit and the government needs to put that right.  Received wisdom indicates that this bald statement is not entirely true. One can accept that there were instances of over spending, poor management, chaotic procurement policy, lack of control and lack of clear policy (endemic in most governments?) – but the collapse of the world economy cannot be laid at the door of the last Labour government.  What would it have been like had the Bank of England not embarked on a programme of quantitative easing?  What would it have been like had the Brown administration not continued to spend?  What would it have been like had sharp elbowed middle class bankers behaved like honourable human beings instead of avaricious, venal and thoughtless human beings? We cannot, now, know – because all these things happened and others did not.

I will, however, accept that Labour were responsible for many of the oppressive erosions on our civil liberties – a phenomenon I still find  puzzling from a party with the core ethic of acting in the wider interests of the less advantaged but stated, by Blair, when he began his premiership to be for all the people of Britain.

Britain scraps annual assessment of human rights abuses across the world

NGOs concerned that ministers are ‘blindly’ pursuing commercial interests in countries where atrocities are taking place

The Observer reports: ” The coalition government is plunged into a major row today over its commitment to human rights amid claims that it will scrap the Foreign Office’s landmark annual assessment of abuses across the world.

The Observer has learned that civil servants have been told to stop working on the next edition of the FCO Annual Report on Human Rights, which highlights incidents of torture and oppression, monitors use of the death penalty and aims to expose the illegal arms trade. The report also acts as a guide to MPs and businesses over which countries it is ethical to trade with.

The former Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, broke ranks last night to claim that any move to end the annual report risked “downgrading human rights” and would be met with “fierce resistance”. NGOs said that doubts over the future of the report, which was introduced by Robin Cook in 1997, fuelled their concerns that coalition ministers were “blindly” pursuing commercial interests in countries where atrocities were taking place…..

It makes interesting and sobering reading.  Roll on the Great Repeal Act, much trumpeted by Deputy Prime Minister Clegg.

Postcard from The Staterooms: Blue Nun edition

Dear Reader,

In the latest edition of Carter Ruck’s originally named Newsletter they refer to the fact on page 4 that they are acting for a number of lawyers who are on  the Solicitors From Hell website.  Private Eye, obligingly, informs us that Carter-Ruck are on the Solicitors From Hell website as “Premium Players’.

And so it came to pass after much measured judgment by the twitterati (and some outraged knee jerking) on the story that Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder, was to be prosecuted for rape…  that he isn’t wanted for rape after all. Quelle surprise.

I may have mentioned it before – and I accept that my irritation with Toby Young is, probably, irrational, but I find him irritating in the extreme. He pops up all over the place, pulling various faces from smug to concerned to imperial, pronounces on a fair few matters he knows (or appears to know) little about and then manages to look even more smug.  It would not surprise me if he has mirrors in every room of his house.  I did, therefore, enjoy reading in Private Eye this afternoon…

THE HISTORY BOYS

TOBY YOUNG was in fine form as he launched into an attack on George Orwell’s essay The Lion and The Unicorn, a mere 69 years after it was first published, in 7 Augusts’ Spectator.

In the essay, written soon after The Battle of Britain, Orwell suggests that the incompetence of the British ruling class was hindering the war effort.  An affronted Young lays into Orwell, writing of the Battle of Britain: “The young men risking their lives to protect Orwell….were nearly all public schoolboys”. Later, he become overwhelmed with emotion: “It’s worth remembering that the few whom we owe so much to were all members of Britain’s ‘clapped out’ ruling class.”

Except, of course, they weren’t.  Some 70 per cent of them were state educated. Only about 200 of the 3000 pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain had been to a public school, and only 4.6 percent were educated at the top 13 public schools.  Even Churchill himself complained about the “almost entire failure of Eton, harrow and Winchester to contribute pilots”.  A fifth of the pilots were foreigners.

I don’t usually extract entire sections – and I do hope the Eye doesn’t mind on this occasion – but apart from it being an excellent piece – it does tend to confirm (for me, at least)  why I find Mr Young irritating. Blue Nun of us are infallible.  But at least we don’t appear on television at every opportunity to pontificate and, one assumes, get paid for doing so.  If Sky, Channel 5, Dave, QVC Channel want to contact me… I can knee jerk with the best of ’em… for a very large fee.  For the Beeb and C4… I’d even do my best to talk sense… for FREE.  Unfortunately, I am now a recluse and will only appear on national television if I am allowed to wear a burqa.

I am happy to draw my readers’ attention to a NEW book for lawyers: THE NAKED LAWYER. Truth can be stranger than fiction sometimes…and this is in the very finest traditions of legal marketing.  I am sure that Dr Strangelove of Muttley Dastardly LLP will be getting in touch. I have read the extract… I particularly liked the threat contained on page 2 of the extract…

Unauthorised duplication of this material in any form is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN.  Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

But… helpfully….. The Entrepreneurial Lawyer does cover herself – although, strangely, her pdf would not allow me to copy her words, so I used *GRAB* instead….

Anyway… if you are a lawyer who needs advice and are happy to subscribe to the full 12 volume set to get the revelation and wisdom  of The Naked Lawyerthen here is the link.

I am looking forward to the start of the new legal year, or at least, some vaguely sensible law to write about. Not a lot of law about.  There are, however, stories about crocodiles in the English Channel and  beaches being shut – only to find that the crocodile was a tree trunk.  Last year The Sun had Great White sharks off the coast of Cornwall with useful photographs of Great Whites in South Africa.  I am able to report, following revelations in The Sun this week that 2-3ft long  rats (with pics) are being found all over Britain (compounded by The Daily Mail which reckons there are 60 million of them),  that the news desk at The Sun is almost certainly now being manned by a seven foot long rat, wearing a homburg with a  *PRESS* card  stuck into the band,   having a larf.

On that note… do have a good weekend

Best, as always

Charon

Muttley Dastardly LLP seek only the brightest of the bright

From The Desk of The Director of Education and Strategic Information
Dr E Strangelove LLB, BCL, MBA, Ph.D, Solicitor

21st August 2010

INFORMATION FOR PROSPECTIVE TRAINEES

We  at Muttley Dastardly LLP appreciate that you come from a generation that has had everything served up to you on a plate by angst ridden middle-class parents who may well have sent you to ballet or music classes when you were a precious six year old. We know your parents pressure cooked you through your mollycoddled lives at prep and public schools – we do do Grammar (at a pinch) but not ‘State’ at Muttley Dastardly – and we are always amused at what you ‘say you did’ on your ‘Gap’ year.  We are not employing your parents, so please warn your parents that if they try to ring up our HR department to ‘exert a bit of influence or pressure’ we shall take the call as ‘instructions’, charge them for listening and send them a bill.  We will not, however, take a blind bit of notice, even if they start crying.  We are not like a British university admissions department at Muttley Dastardly LLP.

We also accept that you probably think that our generation – The Baby Boomers – have trashed the place and left you with a mountain of debt to cope with for  your entire working lives. You are right.  We have.  Live with it, as our American partners say.  If you cut it at Muttley Dastardly LLP, you won’t ever have to worry about debt or, indeed, anything –  ever again.

We are only interested in taking on the very best of the best. You will note that we only practise law in London and New York.  We do this for a reason – there is just not enough money to interest us elsewhere.  So you won’t be exiled to some godforsaken place, or worse, a forsaken place with a different god.  You will be joining the finest law machine in the world, honed by self interest and ruthless billing targets to a point that our clients value that they can simply  print our name on their prospectuses as legal advisers.  We do, naturally, charge a licence fee for this

If you have had the misfortune to be poor, or attended a university other than Oxford, Cambridge, or London, please do not apply. Some of you may think…”Well, I went to Durham”.  You can think that, by all means, but it won’t cut it with us.  We don’t do *Second* here.  If you think that you will get some kudos by saying you went to X or Y Law School to do your LPC – forget it.  You won’t.  We do not care which law school you went to to do your LPC.  We admire their capacity for rapacity in terms of fees charged, but it really doesn’t matter to us where you went for the LPC.  This allows us to say how *diverse aware* we are and say we take trainees from all walks of life.  It is a PR lie, of course, but we have to show willing on the diversity issue before some interfering busybody at the Law Society or DEFRA writes to us taking up valuable billing time.  Christ knows what DEFRA have to do with diversity apart from cloned animals… but that could be why, come to think of it.

There are many opportunities out there in the law. If you can’t join us, you could become an over worked family lawyer, a duty solicitor, or even work for local government or another law firm.  The Police service will, I am sure, suit those of you who managed to get a Desmond. If you managed to astonish even the most PC lecturer at your university and got a Third then, armed with this certificate of incompetence, there will be difficulties ahead for you and we won’t even get the benefit of having you as a client in our new criminal fraud and money laundering unit – because you simply won’t be bright enough to commit the upscale frauds we are looking for at Muttley Dastardly LLP.

What will your life be like at Muttley Dastardly LLP?

It will be short if you aren’t any good. If you can bill when all about you have lost the will, you will progress through the ranks and, one day, become one us – we happy few, we band of Partners.

I look forward to meeting you at interview.

I won’t say good luck.  Life is not a matter of luck – nor is getting into Muttley Dastardly LLP.

Dr E Strangelove

Strength & Profit

We will check Twitter and Facebook. Contrary to the attitude taken by other employers – we are looking for people who got pissed at university.  We are looking for people who nicked police helmets, dressed up as pirates and behaved badly. We find that they tend to be more interesting, adventurous and have the irreverent and anti-establishment qualities needed to be a truly independent legal professional.

Muttley Dastardly LLP launch law management consultancy

PRESS RELEASE

Matt Muttley, the charismatic and astonishingly wealthy managing partner of specialist City law firm Muttley Dastardly LLP, announced today the launch of their new management consultancy specialising in giving advice to law firms.  The management consultancy will trade under the Megaladon LLP name.

“Realising how badly a lot of law firms are managed, particularly smaller law firms where the lawyers, completely untrained in finance, management, IT, risk management or HR, believe, bizarrely, that they can actually run a business, we saw an opening to offer advice to ensure they go bust even more quickly than they would be able to do by their own endeavours.”

From today, any law firm which wishes to go bust, get involved in the latest social media nonsense, buy self help courses or manuals, or just continue to work ineffectively – but with our ‘seal of approval’ –  may do so with the advice our specialist team of consultants –  all of whom have  had three weeks of intensive training as consultants.

We can offer you advice on:

1.  How to really use Twitter to piss off your clients and put off potential clients.  For a modest ‘uplift on our fee’  we will reveal the secrets of the Twitter *DM* function so you can really *get to people*.

2.  How to write seriously banal articles for placement on law blogs worldwide or in your new ‘Newsletter’.  If you don’t have a newsletter we can provide a suitably bad one for you so you blend in with much of the rest of the legal world.

3. How to motivate your staff with our NEW! *5 point Work Them To Death Tough Love* programme

4.  Teach you the secrets of SEO so you get banned by Google

5. We can even design a truly horrific website – although we accept that we may not be able to improve on the truly horrific website you already have.

Overstaffed?

Not a problem! – our consultants will come in, watch you work inefficiently for a week and then go away, pretend to do a lot of work and come back with some fantastically complex charts, algorithms and incomprehensible explanations as to why you need to shed at least 30% of your overhead and staff immediately.  We may even pray in aid some techniques from the mystics and bring along some quartzite and a psychic octopus – at no extra charge!  We may even suggest you fire your accountancy firm or back office so that  our team of trainee accountants  can take over.

We are committed to a smaller, but more professional, legal profession. We will ensure you help us achieve our aims and yours.  Our fees are eye watering – basically we ask you how much you charge your clients and then treble the hourly rate. Disbursements are randomly generated,  but we will provide full supporting receipts for your talk with the Official Receiver.

Don’t delay – act now – you can’t afford to lose time…time is money… and it is OUR money you are spending once you engage us.

Note for Editors

Matt Muttley is available for interview – but a fee of £850 will be charged for this.  You will not be permitted to take photographs or actually be in his presence.  The interview will be conducted by video – we will see you, but you will not see him.  For an additional £150 Mr Muttley will personally arrange for his secretary to sign a copy of his new book The Journey to Astonishing Riches – A manual for those who want to be as good as he is!

[I had rather a good lunch – eating some filo pastry with soft white cheese, parsley, mint and onion.  Lebanese.  I enjoyed them so much I ordered three platefuls of them – baffling the waiter – and washed them down with some superb Lebanese Rose.  I took two glasses.  The fact that I now feel slightly bilious because 12 of these filo pastries is rather a lot, is neither here nor there.  My post was inspired by a superb article in The Independent by….. ]

Johann Hari: The management consultancy scam

“We were proud of the way we used to make things up as we went along”, he says. “It’s like robbing a bank but legal”

I hope Mr Hari does not object to my being inspired to produce the nonsense above… or borrow the strapline for the Megaladon LLP advert above.

The Tories tone down their rhetoric on A-levels

The A* level results were out today to the inevitable and entirely predictable refrain about grade inflation…. “When I did A levels in 1732, they were far harder…yada yada yada.”

I am not going to comment on grade inflation, pressure-cooking students to pass exams etc etc…..  but I did enjoy this article from The Spectator blog…

The Tories tone down their rhetoric on A-levels

I don’t really need to add anything !

Apart from this quote… Willetts is down with da kids? (Surely not? – Ed)

Speaking this morning about standards, David Willetts said:

“I really do hate that debate … Young people work incredibly hard … I think we should stop being down on young people and we should celebrate what they achieve.”
[Come off it…. not even a hoodie flicking V signs is going to be taken in by such a wonderfully paternal and patronising statement]

Review: Professor R.D. Charon’s seminal work ‘Modern Real Politik under the Conservative-Liberal-Democrat Axis’

Contexts of coalition ‘real politik’
Professor Theodosius Farrago

If one examines coalitionism, one is faced with a choice: either reject dialectic theory or conclude that the collective is part of the absurdity of sexuality. The subject is interpolated into an objectivism that includes consciousness as a whole. However, in ‘Modern Real Politik under the Conservative-Liberal-democrat Axis’, Professor RD Charon analyses dialectic theory; in The Post-Ironic Crash, however, he denies coalitionism and develops his theory of ‘crass amateurism’ exemplified by career politicians, with little experience of the reality of the world, let alone, the dynamics of economics, taking over a country, “advertising same on Facebook and then trashing the place”. (A borrowing from a rather amusing article Charon saw in the Indie the other day) .

Hegal uses the term ‘dialectic theory’ to denote the role of the artist as observer. Thus, a number of constructions concerning precultural desublimation may be discovered when one looks at the attritional dialectic being pursued by the present coalition government in their pursuit of deficit reduction.

La Fournier states that we have to choose between objectivism and Cameronardist hyperreality. Therefore, the main theme of the works of Professor R.D. Charon is a mythopoetical totality. The failure of objectivism prevalent in Charon’s ‘Modern Real Politik under the Conservative-Liberal-democrat Axis’ is also evident in The Post-Ironic Crash, although in a more capitalist sense. In a sense, the characteristic theme of Hanfkopf’s  analysis of precultural desublimation is the absurdity, and hence the failure, of cultural coalitionism.

The primary theme of the works of Professor R.D. Charon is a self-referential paradox. Many narratives concerning the difference between society and sexual identity exist. It could be said that objectivism implies that narrativity is capable of truth….

All of the above is, of course, complete and utter bollocks. I got it off a random essay generator (and modified it) which someone on twitter tweeted about earlier today.

The trouble is…I have spent much of my life reading law articles which read like the above – particularly in the field of Jurisprudence or ‘legal philosophy’. Some of the stuff is spectacularly opaque.  It reminds me of the story of a student coming out of a lecture given by a ‘great law professor’ and saying “He was brilliant… I couldn’t understand a single word he said.”

As the link to the  ‘Generator’ reveals… there is a  wonderful story about a Professor of Physics who wrote a lot of fantastic bollocks and got it  published !  I quote from the Generator article I found….. ” If you enjoy this, you might also enjoy reading about the Social Text Affair, where NYU Physics Professor Alan Sokal’s brilliant(ly meaningless) hoax article was accepted by a cultural criticism publication”

I do like a bit of hubris in the morning…and schadenfreude with my glass of wine later in the day!

The Thoughts of Chairman Clegg – Little Orange Book

Thoughts of Chairman Clegg – Little Orange Book

A coalition is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery.

All conservatives are paper tigers.

Liberalism is not love. Liberalism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy.

Despise our Coalition partner strategically, but take him seriously tactically.

I voted for you, the people of Britain,  during your last election.

In time of difficulties, we must not lose sight of my  achievements.

In waking a tiger, use a long stick…or, alternatively, take all their benefits away

Learn from the masses, and then teach them.

Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools be run by by amateurs

Once all power is grasped, miracles are possible. I am a miracle.

People like me sound like a lot of big cannons.

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.. but being a Liberal gun, it will a legal war.

Political work is the life-blood of all economic work.

Swollen in head, weak in legs, sharp in tongue but empty in belly… that’s me!

[Above: With apologies to Mao Tse Clegg]

And here are some recent statements from The Great Leader...which he actually said….

The contrast with experience and youth compared to the callow charms of David Cameron will serve us well.

“I don’t think compromise is betrayal.” Clegg on the day of the Queen’s speech.

“I am a revolutionary but I am also a pragmatist,” said Clegg.

“You can call it fairness. You can call it responsibility. You can call it liberalism.” Nick Clegg defining coalition’s philosophy at the rose garden press conference.

Law Review: A little bit of LAW – relaxed and laid back……

Not everyone knows about The Lord Chancellor’s Breakfast – so I thought I would start with that.

Parliament: The start of the legal year is marked with a religious service in Westminster Abbey – in which judges arrive from the Royal Courts of Justice – followed by a reception at the Houses of Parliament, hosted by the Lord Chancellor.

They go by car these days.  Lord knows what tourists make of it – it is quite a sight!

A quick look at some law blogs… I haven’t done this for some time. Some law blogs are dead.  These blogs are not dead – thankfully.

Obiter J is a regular visitor to my blog and, invariably, adds to the tone of my more sensible posts with very useful comments and links.  I am delighted, therefore, to point you in the direction of his blog.  He says he is retired but retains an interest in Human rights.  It seems to me that Obiter J is very active!  Have a look. It will repay the time. Obiter J also has a useful blog on International Law

An old friend of mine from the teaching days in the early 1980s, a retired criminal barrister, has an excellent blog.  he doesn’t always blog directly about law – but law, politics, life are all  intertwined – so I can recommend The Fat Bigot

John Bolch is a good friend of mine.  I have known him for some time.  He puts up with my nonsense about Family Law – but he certainly does the business on Family Lore and does podcasts with another friend of mine, Natasha Phillips, who writes the Divorce Manual blog – in a striking shade of YELLOW! .   I am delighted to see that John Bolch has taken up cartooning!  I also rather liked this sardonic post: Rubbish Fashion

Any aspiring barrister just has to read Simon Myerson QC’s Pupillage and How to Get It.  They would be negligent not to!  You might find the podcast I did with Simon Myerson of interest if you are a barrister or thinking about becoming one.  Listen

Surfing Barrister Tim Kevan has escaped from behind The Times paywall to produce his own blog himself and this is also on The Guardian.  Always a good read. Indeed, my own law firm, Muttley Dastardly LLP has instructed Babybarista.

Ex-Government barrister, Carl Gardner, writes The Head of Legal blog.  In fact he seems to do a lot of writing and popped up in The Guardian only the other day with this piece:

Exposing celebrities’ sex lives is not in the public interest

Bystander JP of The Magistrates’ Blog is always worth reading – and I do so regularly.  This is his latest post:

A Few Questions

If the proposal to put a ‘court’ into a shopping centre is anything but a cruel hoax, may I respectfully draw the attention of the Magistrates’ Association and the Ministry of Justice to a few practical difficulties?

I wrote about this absurd idea myself last night in a rather long and dark piece.

And… finally for today [I will try and visit a few law blogs as I post over the next two weeks.  Providing too many links in one post may lead to overload].

The White Rabbit

Never any law in it – but always worth a read!  Today’s offering…as good as it is every day!

the rabbit admits to corpsing at this plus assorted stuff

Law Review: Magistrates call for courts in shopping centres – a parody?

Magistrates call for courts in shopping centres

Guardian: Magistrates Association suggests improvised local courts to deliver summary justice quickly and publicly

It is not often that I am critical of magistrates. In fact, I can’t remember ever posting a critical comment about magistrates. They give of their time.  They play an important (and cheap) part in our Justice system – or what is left of it – but this story does worry me…and prompted a raft of other, unrelated, thoughts as you will see below… and in that spirit…. please contribute your own?

The Guardian reports: “Magistrates want to open courts in shopping centres and empty town hall council chambers to speed up justice and make the punishment of low-level offenders more public.

The Magistrates Association, which represents 28,000 members, is to call on the Ministry of Justice to set up improvised courts in empty shops and unused council rooms to deliver “summary justice that is as speedy and local as possible”.

The proposal comes as the government consults on closing more than 100 magistrates courts to save money. Instead it wants to send offenders to fewer, larger courts.

Her Majesty’s Court Service operates 330 magistrates courts and is concerned that some hear too few cases, many buildings are not fully accessible for disabled court users and do not have secure facilities for prisoners.

But the Magistrates Association is afraid that reducing the number of courts will mean longer journeys to court, which will discourage offenders from turning up, increasing the number of “no-shows” resulting in further delays and extra expense. It also warns the move would slow down justice for a large numbers of cases, such as shoplifting and drink–driving, where offenders have been caught red-handed and will plead guilty, which can normally be handled quickly.

“Petty offenders commit crimes that should be dealt with as quickly as possible and as locally as possible,” said John Howson, the association’s deputy chairman. “Justice should not be hidden away and people should be able to see it in operation. We could have a court in the Westfield shopping centre [a major shopping centre in west London] for instance, so that instead of a shoplifter being taken to a police station and it taking hours to build a file, even if they are going to plead guilty, they could be dealt with far more quickly.”

He said a duty solicitor could be on call at the shopping centre to represent the accused. A key benefit of the proposal would be the deterrent effect on would-be shoplifters witnessing swift justice of those caught out, he said. The magistrates also believe that courts could be set up in council buildings, in empty meeting rooms or council chambers, where simple cases could be heard when there is no need for specialist court architecture to separate defendants and witnesses. Magistrates, who have full-time jobs, could also sit in the evenings.

“We have moved away from the days of courts being about shock and awe,” Howson said. “If other people can see justice being done it may deter others.”

More……

Now I do accept that this, may at first blush, appeal to many – but….. is it the right response? I also accept that it may well be a knee jerk response to CUTS. But that does not mean that we should be swayed by the views of The Magistrates Association, expressed through their deputy chairman. I don’t, myself, want to see people being tried in shopping centres or shopping malls. I am comfortable with the use of old town halls – but I do believe that Justice (as best we define it with changing mores, values,  and political imperatives) should be administered in a building designed for that purpose, be seen as a place of Justice and not be admixed into the ‘community’ in a supermarket or shopping mall.

I also accept that Mr Howson is only trying to be helpful – but my satire is set against the background of very real concerns to criminal and civil justice – cuts in legal aid, cuts in probation, cuts in prison places – for the expediency of a government, which while trying to cut a deficit which may or may not be proven to be necessary, seems to be prepared to ride roughshod over trials and the process of justice.  How this sits with the much lauded – but yet to be implemented – roll back of laws and a new era of civil liberties,   I have no idea.  It does seem to be slightly legalo-schizophrenic?

Perhaps we could, reductio ad absurdum, televise these trials, have a celebrity panel instead of a jury,  and allow the public to vote as they are so fond of doing on X-factor et al? Well, of course, I am taking the argument and analysis to extreme… but I do wonder, reading comments in online Newspapers – and not just The Sun and Mail, but also the broadsheets and on twitter,  when crimes are reported,  if many would be quite happy to see this type of justice?

Do we really want to go back in time to a form of summary justice more suited to a village square at the time of *Bad King John*?

I rather like the idea that it takes time to build a case. While I accept that there are many who would gladly dispense with lawyers and due process when it is *obvious* that the people *nicked* are guilty…. I rather like the idea that lawyers are involved – with the expertise and time to advise people being prosecuted.  I rather like the idea of the ‘presumption of innocence’.  I rather like the idea of due process and rule of law.  I rather like the idea of ‘evidence’. It is what defines us, it is what makes us  ‘human’ and humane. Far better that the guilty get off than the innocent get convicted? Just an idea… but a well documented one and very much part of our heritage…at least in recent years… certainly since World War II!

Thankfully, we abolished the death penalty many years ago. Others, including the first world countries of America (Most states, but not all)  and Japan (and many others),  continue to execute their criminals.  China does it for a surprisingly wide range of offences.  The Iranians and Taliban are quite happy to stone young men and women to death. We have seen this reported in the press recently.  But let us not forget that Singapore and Malaysia – very popular tourist destinations –  also employ the death penalty.  They even do it for possession and trafficking of drugs.  Drugs, they say, are bad for you – so if you have any,  *we will hang you so you can’t do yourself (or others,  if you deal) any more harm*.  But, before you think I am proselytising – I am – I rather suspect that if we had a referendum on the death penalty – it would be voted in by a majority.  The issue of democracy and majority rule and 5 million flies eating shit  – ergo, shit is good to eat –  is a separate blog post.

I like to think of myself at Sainsburys… or even better TESCOLAWS…and the cashier  asking me:  “Would you  like some *cash back*? and then..  *Would you like to buy some ‘out of sell-by date’ vegetables so you  can throw them at the chavs and crims being tried where the bread used to be…just past the fresh fish counter… over there?*.

Forgive me… but after reading about the Taliban and Iranians stoning people, and the good people of Utah, USA, shooting a man to death as part of their *Justice* system… I am not inclined to support people being tried in shopping centres simply because we are a little stretched…cash wise, at the moment.

I thought this comment was astonishing… assuming that it is reported accurately…

He said a duty solicitor could be on call at the shopping centre to represent the accused………… We could have a court in the Westfield shopping centre [a major shopping centre in west London] for instance, so that instead of a shoplifter being taken to a police station and it taking hours to build a file, even if they are going to plead guilty, they could be dealt with far more quickly.”

Look at the wording quoted above from Mr Howson’s exposition:   ‘hours to build a file’...and those truly awful words…. “even if they are going to plead guilty, they could be dealt with far more quickly” worries me. A Duty solicitor to represent the accused?  Duty solicitors do represent people – but not everyone wants a duty solicitor.  They want their own solicitor. Don’t they? By the way… if these people are going to be tried quickly at Tesco – where are they going to held?  In the ‘cold store’ – hung up on meat hooks like sides of beef’?  Absurd imagery I am using, of course.  Absurd idea?

I have, of course, taken this article to extremes… but is it an extreme which awaits us? The real purpose of the blog post is below. In 1985  (I was 32 and still enthusiastic – as I am now) I had  a long conversation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia [at The Dog (a club) where I played rugby on the padang as a child]  with a senior and very experienced Malaysian High Court judge; long retired and forgotten, but not by me.  He was depressed and apologised for his mood; explaining that  he had that day  sentenced four drug traffickers to death – adding, that it was highly unlikely their appeals would succeed and they would be hanged within a fairly short time scale according to the process of Malaysian law.  I was brought up as a  child in Malaysia.  I had the pleasure of teaching many thousands of Malaysian lawyers in later life.  I know, from my own experience, that Malaysia (when I was last out there – 2000) has an independent legal profession and enjoys a sophisticated rule of law. It may have changed.  I do not know.


Politics determines the law ( as a base proposition)   in every country – not the judges. The judges, however, see the results of politically inspired law.  The Malaysian High Court judge told me that many Malaysians, and a few foreigners, had died on the rope – but still, there was a serious problem with drugs.  He said that the death penalty did not work – he did not even bother to discuss the philosophical, legalo-ethical and moral issues.  He did not need to.  He knew them,  as did I – and he knew that.

I will never forget him saying to me as we discussed the theory of law:  the value base, the political base – the justification for law … words to the effect…. “When politics determines oppressive or poor  law for popularity or reasons of oppression, we are lost – for  then we are no longer independent judges of law with a conscience, but tools of the state.  The common law of England  shapes part of our law – it gives us flexibility, but not, in matters of the penalty for drugs or other offences.”

I asked him if  he felt that sentencing people to death for drugs was the act of a judge or a tool of the state. His answer was, inevitably,  that judges don’t have to agree with a law to apply it and then told me that he did  not have to deal with such serious issues of the death penalty every day – but  added –  again, I paraphrase: “But what does a judge do when he cannot apply the law of his country because he cannot accept the moral or political value?”. This was a purely philosophical extension – and nothing to do with the laws of any country.  Resign –  was the only answer we could come up with. Today, of course, resignation by a judge on conscience would get tremendous publicity on twitter and the net generally – beyond the damage limitation control of any state.  But, as we all know, with resignation there is often (not always, perhaps) a keen and ambitious – but perhaps less worthy, replacement.

I am all too aware that I have gone from a fairly modest, if bizarre, proposal to have courts in shopping malls, to the death penalty. I have done so for a reason – for they are extremes. I have done so as much for my own views on the way our law and process or system of law is going as yours.  I am still thinking it through – and may not come to a conclusion – that may be beyond me, you and others, but I think it is worth thinking about and debating

Our law is by no means perfect. Our lawyers, police, magistrates, judges, and all the others concerned with the administration of criminal and civil  justice (as opposed to purely private law – land, contract, company et al)  have a  Sisyphian task – the ball they roll up the hill will never get to the top.  There is a danger, with cuts, with reductions in legal aid, essential policing for serious violent crime and many other connected factors, that the ball will not continue to be pushed up the hill, but will roll down to the bottom. The Malaysian judge may have had a point? We have to ensure that our laws are both fair, necessary, and administered to the highest standards – and that, unfortunately, costs money.

Isn’t purple prose and polemic wonderful? I could have tossed in a lot more graphic images from Google.  I don’t need to. Trial by newspaper, trial in a supermarket, trial by twitter, blogs – is that the way forward? –  or trial by the people who do it now on not a great deal of money…and may have to on even less – if they can afford to?

***

As always – I am open to comments…. fire away… but ye, who be without sin, cast the first stone… if you forgive the metaphor…

I am merely exploring thoughts with this post – not prescribing, not doing anything more than trying to express my own, as yet far from finalised thoughts on the matter.  It is, after all, only a blog post.  I welcome your thoughts.

Dragons’ Den? – Pfffff… Are you HARD enough to face THE RAPTORS?

You have seen the Dragons’ Den…marvelled at Duncan saying *Ridiculous* most weeks and tweeting *I’m OUT* quite often on Twitter as if he thinks we give a farkin damn…. … smiled as Theo Laryngtis talks about his children’s inheritance for the 250th (ish?) time on British television….. have been amazed at Deborah’s strange finger movements in the opening sequence…. worked out that Peter is a *Telecoms Giant* because he is four feet taller than everyone else on DD…and still can’t work out why James Caan doesn’t look like  the the guy in The Godfather who shagged a woman up against a bedroom door at a wedding….?

Forget it…. THE RAPTORS are coming…. very soon….

Duncan Bannatyne on twitter has been tweeting much of the day about this…..

Dragons’ Den winner reveals £80k promise was in fact ‘a loan’ – of which only £26,500 ever emerged

AND THIS!

Just how trustworthy are the Dragons?

Do THE RAPTORS care? Of course they don’t! Would you expect them to….. it is dog eat dog… out there… and I am fairly certain that even Nick Clegg could come around to this *thinking* in time….

A small selection of tweets from Duncan…..

But you have to admit… like DD or not at least Duncan Bannatyne tries to breathe some life into it….

A turn up for the books: Tony Blair donates book cash to injured soldier charity

Tony Blair donates book cash to injured soldier charity

The BBC reports: Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is to donate the profits from his memoirs to a sports centre for badly injured soldiers. A spokesman said Mr Blair would hand over the reported £4.6m advance payment plus all royalties to honour “their courage and sacrifice”. The Royal British Legion will receive the money, Mr Blair’s office has confirmed. The book, called A Journey, is due to be published next month. The money will go the Legion’s Battle Back Challenge Centre, which is due to open in summer 2012.

“As Tony Blair said to the House of Commons on his last day in office: ‘I believe that they [the Armed Forces] are fighting for the security of this country and the wider world against people who would destroy our way of life. But whatever view people take of my decisions, I think that there is only one view to take of them: they are the bravest and the best.'”

Good decision.

I will  buy the book and read it with greater pleasure knowing that Tony Blair has made this decision.

Law Review: Dr Kelly: Just one in five believes it was suicide as official cause of death is branded ‘impossible’

Dr Kelly: Just one in five believes it was suicide as official cause of death is branded ‘impossible’

The official verdict that Dr David Kelly committed suicide has been overwhelmingly rejected by the public.

According to an exclusive Mail opinion poll, only one in five people accepts the Hutton Inquiry’s finding that the government weapons inspector took his own life.

The survey also reveals that eight out of ten people want a full inquest. With senior MPs making the same demand, the Coalition is under strong pressure to act.

It comes as a medical report says it was ‘impossible’ that Dr Kelly bled to death in the way described by the inquiry.

The study, whose authors include vascular and trauma surgeons, deals with the Hutton report’s finding that Dr Kelly died from loss of blood after cutting a small artery in his wrist.

The doctors say that, based on Dr Kelly’s weight and size, he would have had to lose 2,700ml of blood to threaten his life.

Their report, which has been submitted to Attorney General Dominic Grieve, says: ‘It was impossible for 2,700ml of blood to have been lost through this small artery. ‘Indeed, to lose 500ml through it would have been unlikely.’

Brave New World : Results!

The A Level results are out this week and  some Russell Group universities  – but not Oxford –  will be requiring the new A * grade.

Many who went to public schools (and for that, read ‘private’ schools) are likely to be recipients of the new A* grade.  It is likely that there will be far more A* star grades in the private than public sector of secondary education.   It is unlikely, now that we have a Coalition government where Gove and Willetts can demonstrate their particular expertise, that sleep will be lost by government on the widening gap between public and private education.

Sadly, as Clarkson observed, some students will be getting results which make up words like DUDE and BEEF – but one thing is certain – their options will be limited. There will be fewer university places this year than last and a Vice Chancellor from a university I have never heard of (Worcester) has popped up to say that there will be fewer places.

The reason I have never heard of The University of Worcester is not negligence on my part – indeed, quite the opposite; for the  fact is that the Law (as with most fields) is a competitive arena.  There aren’t any prizes for third place.  The magic circle firms and leading sets of Chambers may waffle on about ‘diversity’ but it does not take much effort to research the fact that the majority of their intake is still Oxford, Cambridge – and, the top Russell group universities.  It would be dishonest to suggest that a student with a degree from a lesser university stands an equal chance with a student from Oxbridge who also went to a good private school. They may well stand a chance – but I would argue that it won’t be an equal chance in the top firms or Chambers.  I suspect that even the vocational law schools providing the LPC and BVC will soon be indulging in their own snobbery and ranking. Some say they already are – which seems to me to be a bit ‘premature’.

BPP and the College of Law both lead the market for the LPC and what is now the BPTC (Lay readers note!: one year professional courses to qualify as a solicitor or barrister, respectively, taken after the academic law degree stage) and both have degree awarding powers.  I suspect their degrees will be less highly regarded by employers – and therefore by students – for some time to come.  BPP is now a university.   It is many things – but it is not a Russell group university and may well never achieve such status.  We shall see.

I can’t quite see where all the new law students are going to work. The economy is still fragile.  Growth in law firms is nascent.  People are working longer and are retiring later.  Where are the jobs in solicitors firms and commerce going to come from?  Government is cutting back. The Bar is not exactly overloaded with work in some areas at the moment and is under tremendous costs pressures.  There is talk of QCs sitting around doing not very much at all.

All this is good news of course for universities who will not struggle to fill their Law places (and even better news for providers of wonderfully expensive LPC and BPTC courses – around the £15,1000 mark for fees alone for the BPTC ) and while students in other disciplines can go off to Holland, Europe, the States, Canada and Australia and find courses conducted in English, this is not an option for students wishing to study English law.

One thing is for sure – the people who run law schools are not remotely interested in my observations on this  and while I do get a fairly wide readership of about 80,000 unique readers when I last looked at stats for the blog and Insite Law, podcasts et al, there is a wonderful human phenomenon called ‘Hope’ and a less wonderful phenomenon that warnings of gloom apply only to ‘other readers’. I admire tenacity.  Everyone who wants to be a lawyer should go for it – but knowing the reality of the market and that disappointment may well follow if they don’t make the cut. Unfortunately,for those who do not make the cut,  the next generation in August 2011 may be brighter and better qualified. The next generation is only one year behind you. And why should I care to even spend my time writing about it?  It isn’t going to effect me.    Maybe I shouldn’t bother and go an do something more useful with what is left of my life?!  I have a feeling that I’ll be doing a bit more tilting at windmills.

Here is an article from The Independent this morning….

Class of 2010 faces higher hurdles for college places and uncertain job market

PS: It wouldn’t surprise me if some law school Dean  pops up to confirm that all is well in Britain again, the economy is on the move – business has never been better for them and demand is ‘farkin marvellous… lovely jubbly etc etc’ because their law school is so highly regarded.  We shall see. I shall keep an eye on The Lawyer and Legal Week.  They tend to get a fair number of reports from the law schools these days.  We used to call them press releases.

Postcard From The Staterooms: Stick of rock, cock? edition

Dear Reader,

It has been another quiet week.  August  is always a bit quiet with the courts shut and lawyers away on holiday.  Clegg returned from holiday in Spain, eager to take over the reins of power and even indicated on the Number 10 website, apparently, that “he would be making a high-profile appearance on Monday when he “takes over from David Cameron while the PM is on holiday”.

Fortunately…

Nick Clegg humiliated after Downing Street remove website claims he will be in charge while David Cameron is away

But by 4pm they had removed all reference of Mr Clegg “taking over”.

Experts call for David Kelly inquest

I am not normally prone to the conspiracy theory of life.  I rather suspect, given that we are British, that ‘cock-up’ is more likely than not for some of the strange things we do in our country.  On the issue of the death of Dr Kelly I have more than an open mind.  I am in favour of a rather more full inquest and investigation than the ‘whitewash’ conducted by Lord Hutton was able to provide.

Channel 4 reports: “The original inquest was subsumed into Lord Hutton’s inquiry into the circumstance surrounding Dr Kelly’s death – it concluded that he had died from cuts to his wrist and an overdose of painkillers. Now nine experts, including the former coroner and QC Michael Powers, and Sir Barry Jackson, who is the former president of the British Academy of Forensic Science, have written an open letter to ministers casting doubt on that conclusion. They claim the official cause of death, a haemorrhage from a severed artery, was “extremely unlikely”. They insisted that insufficient blood would have been lost from such an injury – calling the verdict “unsafe”….. “

If it proves to be the case that Dr Kelly did, indeed, kill himself in those woods then so be it.  I’d just like to see clear evidence to support such a conclusion. Senior lawyers and forensic scientists are not prone to writing open letters without good reason.

Terror laws overused by police, research suggests

The Law Society Gazette had an interesting story yesterday: “Less than 4% of people arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 were convicted of terrorism-related offences in 2009, new research has found. Just eight people were convicted out of 207 arrests made under the act in 2009, according to Home Office statistics analysed by legal information provider Sweet & Maxwell. In the 10 years since the act was introduced, of the 1,817 people arrested under it, 235 have been convicted for terrorist-related offences – less than 13%, the research found. The Terrorism Act 2000 gave police new powers to arrest and detain suspects without charge.”

I find this statistic, particularly the 4% statistic for 2009, rather worrying. Coming on top of abuses of RIPA  and other terror legislation, by Police, Councils and other bodies – and plans to give shopping mall security staff power to hand out on the spot fines – it would seem that it is not so much the law that is a problem (and these laws are a problem) but the people who misuse them.

Law chief urges Scots courts: consult the Bible in judgments

I met Lord Mackay briefly when he came to talk to my law students  – a very charming man – and while I respect the right of those who wish to believe, to believe, I am not at all keen on any form of religion continuing to be tied in with The Rule of law.  TheHeraldScotland reports:

One of the most prestigious figures in Scots law is calling on the country’s courts to take biblical teachings into account when administering justice.

Former Conservative Cabinet member Lord Mackay of Clashfern, who served as Lord Chancellor under Margaret Thatcher and John Major as well as holding the post of Scotland’s Lord Advocate, is fronting a campaign which will see bibles sent to every court in the land.  Just because God rested on the seventh day does not mean that we should have to. As the report indicates – Scots judges are aware of The Enlightenment and will, hopefully, continue to dispense justice according to recorded “Law”.

It is fortunate that the writ of Scots Law does not run in England & Wales.  I seem to recall from the BBC programme The Normans one of the Marcher Lords making a Royal emissary from England who tried to deliver a Royal Wit being made to eat it…and the wax seal as well.


If you fancy a diversion from all this law – unusual in my weekly Postcard – have a look at Iain Fale’s Diary  – a most enjoyable read

Then they came for Jackie Milburn

WikiLeaks: We Won’t Be Threatened By Pentagon

The Huffington Post reports:

STOCKHOLM — WikiLeaks will publish its remaining 15,000 Afghan war documents within a month, despite warnings from the U.S. government, the organization’s founder said Saturday.The Pentagon has said that secret information will be even more damaging to security and risk more lives than WikiLeaks’ initial release of some 76,000 war documents.

“This organization will not be threatened by the Pentagon or any other group,” Julian Assange told reporters in Stockholm. “We proceed cautiously and safely with this material.”

While I am all for the principle that we should be given access to information and government should be transparent – I do have concerns that the actions of Wikileaks could put more lives in danger; not just the lives of troops, but also Afghan civilian lives.  Wikileaks say they are going to be responsible about this by removing the names of “innocent people”. Well, we shall just have to see.  If they don’t, it could destroy the respect, trust and credibility Wikileaks has enjoyed in the past.

And finally… here is a Postcard from the Prime Minister…who is on his patriotic holiday in Cornwall….Dave cares….. about us all in Big Society… even on holiday.  I find that touching.


Have a good week

Best, as always

Charon

Audit Commission Pickled and certainly in a pickle – abolished!

The BBC reports…

Eric Pickles announces plans to scrap Audit Commission

England’s public spending watchdog the Audit Commission, which employs 2,000 people, is to be scrapped.

***


This is quite an interesting House of Lords decision…. I believe it refers to *Auditors* (HT @loveandgarbage)

Magill v. Porter Magill v. Weeks

I simply quote from the opening speech of Lord Bingham to remind you of the case in relation to Shirley Porter and then quote the speech by Lord Scott and say no more, at this stage, about *Audit* apart from highlighting the word *Audit Commission* below…..

LORD BINGHAM OF CORNHILL

My Lords,

1. The issue in this appeal is whether the auditor should have certified any sum to be due to the Westminster City Council from Dame Shirley Porter and Mr David Weeks and, if so, in what amount.

2. The appellant, Mr John Magill, is the auditor. He was appointed by the Audit Commission under section 13 of the Local Government Finance Act 1982 to audit the accounts of Westminster City Council for the years 1987-8 to 1994-5. He conducted a very lengthy and detailed audit and certified under section 20 of the Act that three councillors and three officers had, by wilful misconduct, jointly and severally caused a loss of approximately £31m to the council which they were liable to make good. All three of the councillors and two of the officers pursued appeals against the auditor’s decision to the Queen’s Bench Divisional Court (Rose LJ, Latham and Keene JJ). The councillors were Dame Shirley Porter, who was leader of the council at all material times, Mr David Weeks, who was deputy leader, and Mr Hartley, who from June 1987 was chairman of the council’s Housing Committee. The two officers were Mr England, who was the council’s director of housing, and Mr Phillips, who was managing director of the council. The Divisional Court upheld the auditor’s finding that Dame Shirley Porter and Mr Weeks were liable, although it reduced the sum certified; it allowed the appeals of Mr Hartley and the two officers and quashed the auditor’s certificate in relation to them: (1997) 96 LGR 157. On further appeal by Dame Shirley Porter and Mr Weeks, the Court of Appeal by a majority (Kennedy and Schiemann LJJ, Robert Walker LJ dissenting) upheld both appeals on liability: [2000] 2 WLR 1420. Robert Walker LJ, although in favour of dismissing both appeals against liability, would have reduced the sum of the auditor’s certificate: p 1504. On this quantum issue Kennedy LJ agreed with him (at p 1429) and Schiemann LJ (at p 1447) expressed no opinion. The auditor now appeals to this House seeking to reinstate the certificate issued against Dame Shirley Porter and Mr Weeks in the sum certified by the Divisional Court. Mr Hartley and the two officers are no longer directly involved in the proceedings. It is necessary to decide whether the Court of Appeal was right to quash the certificate issued against Dame Shirley Porter and Mr Weeks and, if not, in what sum that certificate should have been issued.

LORD SCOTT OF FOSCOTE

My Lords,

132. This is a case about political corruption. The corruption was not money corruption. No one took a bribe. No one sought or received money for political favours. But there are other forms of corruption, often less easily detectable and therefore more insidious. Gerrymandering, the manipulation of constituency boundaries for party political advantage, is a clear form of political corruption. So, too, would be any misuse of municipal powers, intended for use in the general public interest but used instead for party political advantage. Who can doubt that the selective use of municipal powers in order to obtain party political advantage represents political corruption? Political corruption, if unchecked, engenders cynicism about elections, about politicians and their motives and damages the reputation of democratic government. Like Viola’s “worm i’ the bud” it feeds upon democratic institutions from within (Twelfth Night).

133. When detected and exposed it must be expected, or at least it must be hoped, that political corruption will receive its just deserts at the polls. Detection and exposure is, however, often difficult and, where it happens, is usually attributable to determined efforts by political opponents or by investigative journalists or by both in tandem. But, where local government is concerned, there is an additional very important bulwark guarding against misconduct. The Local Government Finance Act 1982 (now repealed but in force until 11 September 1998) required the annual accounts of a local authority to be audited by an independent auditor appointed by the Audit Commission (sections 12 and 13). The auditor had to satisfy himself that the local authority’s accounts were in order (section 15(1) and (2)) and, also, had to “consider whether, in the public interest, he should make a report on any matter coming to his notice in the course of the audit in order that it may be considered by the [local authority] concerned or brought to the attention of the public … ” (section 15(3)).

134. If, in the course of the audit, it came to the attention of the auditor that municipal powers had been used not in the general public interest but, selectively, for party political advantage, it was plainly right that the political corruption in question should be exposed in a report under section 15(3).

You must draw your own conclusions about the value of the *Audit Commission* and *Audit*.  [Deceased… like that parrot in the Monty Python sketch from many years ago]


Rive Gauche: Porno slide show anyone? – and a few other matters!

You have to hand it to RollonFriday – they are often on the money with bizarre stories about our wonderful world of law. This week they get Charon’s Palme D’or for this….

Exclusive: DLA Piper partner in public porno embarrassment

A partner at DLA Piper’s Amsterdam office has been publicly shamed after unwittingly displaying a porn collection at a client presentation.

The partner was giving a presentation at the office of Orangefield Trust, a major Dutch company. Unfortunately when he put his USB stick, which contained his presentation, into the laptop that Orangefield had provided, he discovered that it had an “autoplay” function. And the room was treated to an unstoppable slideshow of hardcore interracial porn.

The partner is….still a partner according to the RoF report.

The Ministry of Justice is considering lifting the age limit of 70 for jurors. I would prefer they allow judges to sit until 75, should the judge wish to.  Judges are none too keen, according to RollonFriday,  and RoF asks whether judges fear being hauled back into court when they retire to sit as jurors.  My father, against all the laws of medicine, and to the astonishment of numerous consulting physicians, managed to live to the ripe age of 78.  He drank a great deal of whisky, smoked professionally and seemed to enjoy much of his life doing these things.  I remember getting a call from Somerset Police to inform me that my father had been ‘talked to’ for driving his ‘mobility’ buggy down the pavement of the  quiet Somerset village he lived in for accidentally ripping mirrors off parked cars.  I was ‘looking after his affairs’ at this time and I compensated the three car owners who, it has to be said, were more concerned about my father than their mirrors. They knew him well and not one complained to the Police. I rather like the image I have conjured up of my old man, when 78, sitting in the jury box pissed and being ‘difficult’; sending notes to the judge, leaping to his feet to assist defence counsel with the questions (My father did enjoy a bit of Rumpole) and being warned for contempt. Come to think of it, if I reach that age, I wouldn’t mind a spot of jury service to pass the time and do my bit for Big Society.

Simon Myerson QC, author of the Pupillage and How To get It blog has an excellent opportunity for a prospective barrister. The noting position may have gone by the time to read this but I like the idea and the openness about the opportunity.  Having met Simon Myerson and having done several podcasts with him – I rather suspect that it will not only be an interesting experience but a pleasurable one. Have a look at *Wanted*

I am grateful to Bystander JP of The Magistrates’ Blog for drawing my attention to this *Heavy* handed action by police…

Couple painting fence fined £80 for criminal damage after ‘flecks’ ended up on neighbours’ side

Daily Mail

Even though it is Friday – investing a few minutes to read this excellent blog post by Jordan Furlong if you are a practitioner is a good investment!

How to kill a law firm

We aren’t very good at prosecuting coppers for manslaughter or for over stepping the mark with batons but this Special Constable was kippered well and truly…

Special constable jailed for £80,000 benefit fraud

And finally… Beau Bo D’Or on Blair’s *The Journey*

I’m not going to give you a thumbnail of  the excellent image here  – because I want Beau Bo D’or to have the pleasure of your company on his blog – the pleasure will also be yours with this excellent cover suggestion for Blair’s new book.  Do have a look 🙂

Have a good weekend…..

Law Review: Professional Indemnity Insurance

The Law Society reported recently (25 May 2010):

Quinn Insurance: latest update for PII policy holders

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Member update: Tuesday 25 May

Following a meeting with Quinn and its administrators on 21 May, we can confirm that no decision has yet been made about whether Quinn will be renewing or issuing new professional indemnity insurance (PII) policies in the UK from 1 October 2010.

However, we continue to work on the assumption that Quinn will not be doing so. We will let you know if the situation changes.

We were also assured that Quinn:

  • continues to be able to meet its debts and liabilities, including claims under policies, as they fall due
  • has no current need to make an application to the Irish Compensation Fund but could do so if the situation changes

Therefore there is no reason for solicitors to hold any greater concerns than in previous weeks.

Practitioners may wish to have a look at the offering of Priest & Co. I will be doing a podcast with one of their team to look into the issue of insurance generally, and while I am appreciative that Priest & Co have sponsored some of the free materials on Insite (at my invitation) – they do have an interesting service.

Priest and co are registered Lloyd’s insurance brokers with a dedicated team of professional indemnity specialists who have been advising on solicitors professional indemnity insurance since the open market in 2000.

Whilst we specialise in the placement of professional indemnity insurance for law firms, we also recognise that the market place is saturated with brokers and can be a confusing and daunting place for law firms struggling to find the right cover. Therefore, rather than just acting as a broker, we are also happy to advise on how to approach the entire market, including those insurers we do not have access to.

The biggest mistake law firms make year on year is to flood the market with too many brokers. It is important that you use the market to your advantage rather than turn it away from you.

I plan to run a short series of guest posts on this issue for those of you who are interested as part of the Law review general coverage of legal issues.


F**KART: LEG!

This is LEG! – At the moment it is now in poster paint format and about 24 inches high….. BUT….  I am planning to turn it into a painting 6ft x 4ft.  This, I can tell you, is not going to be easy.  It is a friend’s leg, obviously – it is not easy painting one’s own leg… not even Picasso did it…nor Monet, Manet, Turner, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Mondrian, Constable, Leonardo Da Vinci Code, Damien, Nick Leg…. none of them…. not one great artist has ever painted their own leg…. I am not a great artist, ipso facto… I paint other people’s legs…. or only one of them… in these days of CUTS… BIG SOCIETY… *We are all innit to win it*… sorry…. *We are all in it together*….  That is all.

Coming soon…..

OK… as @infobunny tweeted it – it is her leg!  I am always discreet….. and did not wish to reveal the owner of the LEG!

Lawyers to be given legal MOT – and I am not making it up…..

QCs face compulsory reaccreditation under new advocacy scheme

Solicitors Journal: “The most experienced criminal advocates in the country will be subject to compulsory reaccreditation every five years under plans for a joint quality assurance scheme launched this week by the Bar Standards Board, the SRA and ILEX.

“Queen’s Counsel will not be exempt from the reaccreditation process,” the Joint Advocacy Group (JAG) said in its consultation paper. “JAG believes that it is important for the credibility of the scheme for QCs to be involved.

“The award of a mark of excellence by an independent body is separate from a regulatory quality assurance scheme which is assessing threshold standards.”

The move towards joint monitoring follows stinging criticism of the quality of solicitor advocates last year by the former chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, Peter Lodder QC, and by Judge Gledhill QC at Southwark Crown Court (see solicitorsjournal.com, 21 April 2009).

There is an element of irony here.  I cannot imagine that when senior members of the Bar complained about the quality of solicitor-advocates they imagined that they, too, would be subject to an MOT.   Maybe they did.  It will be a bit embarrassing if senior barristers fail?  Will we be told?  Will PAC (Performance of Advocacy Council – yet another new ‘body) tell us?  I shall be watching their website with interest.  I am sure that I shall not be alone in doing so.
There are now so many regulatory bodies for Law – LSB, BSB, SRA, ILEX et al… one wonders where it will end.

As I said in the comments…. “Some say it is a PC way of ensuring solicitor-advocates are properly regulated? I could not, of course, comment on such an idea.”

British Heritage: The Glorious Twelfth – Men with Brains of Oak

The Glorious Twelfth is usually used to refer to 12 August, the start of the shooting season for Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus scoticus) and to a lesser extent the Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) in the United Kingdom. This is one of the busiest days in the shooting season, with large amounts of game being shot.

Men, brave men, armed only with shotguns from expensive armourers, take on vicious birds, descendants of raptors from many millenia ago;  grouse, intent on destroying the very fabric of our society, visceral in their viciousness, brutal in their intensity to destroy Big Society….. but fear not…. England, this sceptred isle, breeds men with brains of oak still…who defend our shoes (and shores)  from terror.

The rank stench of those bodies haunts me still
And I remember things I’d best forget.
For now we’ve marched to a green, trenchless land
Twelve miles with battering guns: along the grass
Brown lines of bracken are hives for snoring grouse;
Wide, radiant water sways the floating sky
Below dark, shivering trees. And living-clean
Comes back with thoughts of home and hours of sleep.
To-night I smell the battle; miles away
Gun-thunder leaps and thuds along the ridge;
The spouting shells dig pits in fields of death,
And wounded grouse, are moaning in the woods.
If any grouse be there whom I have loved,
God speed him safe to Waitrose with a fine jus, parsnips, roast potatoes, carrots and a hint of garlic and thyme

With sincere apologies to Siegfried Sassoon.

PS:  The only good thing is that these people pay an average of £40 a bird – whereas we can buy them from Waitrose for a fiver.  See what I mean about brains of oak?

Talk from Table 14….

The long summer continues, albeit with mixed weather, and I continue to spend part of each day being a patriot, supporting British Tourism, by holidaying at Table 14 at a cafe in Battersea Square.  I don’t always get to Table 14.  It is proving to be a very popular table.  So if you see anyone who doesn’t look like me sitting at the table, should you pass by, then in all probability it is not me. I now have a new strategy.  I lurk as they put the tables out and then, in the finest Germanic tradition, occupy it.

The longer I stay in Battersea the more I like it. Friendly people. There is always a lot going on – people wandering around, people popping into the various cafes, chatting to each other, militant cyclists streaming by in their strange hats and yellow spandex and…. some pretty serious motorcars. Yesterday afternoon,  I had the pleasure of seeing one of those vulgar new Rolls Royce cars waft by with the number plate XXX TAT……Res ipsa loquitur.

But, as summer draws on towards an inevitable slide into Autumn and a winter of a thousand cuts, I may leave Battersea and head North.  I am thinking…. the West of Scotland, possibly, Inverary –  but first, given that this is deep in Campbell country, I must check that they are not murdering people as they sleep as once they did.

Time hangs heavy on those who do not have enough to do and it is thus with Lord Shagger –  who has now chosen to emulate The Prince of Wales by writing to sundry government ministers.  He was kind enough to send me a copy of a reply from the Ministry of Justice received on this very day….

//

Bank of England forecasts ‘choppy’ economic recovery

The BBC reports with a degree of schadenfreude: “The UK economy faces a “choppy recovery” over the next two years, the governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, has warned. His comments came as the Bank lowered its economic growth forecast and said inflation would stay higher for longer than previously forecast.

The Bank now expects the economy to grow by less than 3% in 2011, down from its previous forecast of nearer 3.5%. It added that a lack of bank lending would limit economic growth.

Oh Dear!: Files on thousands of innocent people held on North Yorkshire Police database

The Press reports: “TENS of thousands of people who have never even been linked with an offence are on a secret North Yorkshire Police database, The Press can reveal.

Details of more than 180,000 people are on the force’s information management system, despite only a fraction being even suspected of any crime.

Privacy campaigners have condemned the force, after an investigation by The Press found information on innocent informants was stored along with that of suspects and vulnerable complainants.

The database contains information on 38,259 suspects and 181,917 people who have simply reported information.

MoJ to slash £2bn from its budget

The Law Society Gazette reports…. “The Ministry of Justice will slash £2bn from its £9bn budget in order to meet government spending targets, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has claimed. Citing a letter understood to have been circulated to MoJ senior staff today, the PCS estimated that around 15,000 of the MoJ’s 80,000 staff risk losing their jobs as a result of the cuts……”

There are some interesting Police blogs… and I follow several for their perspective on our criminal justice system. Today, I would like to draw your attention to a post from

Law Review: New law journals – worth a look

It is not often you (or, even, one)  can say that a law publisher offers something free, let alone with no strings attached – Arden Davies Publishing are currently offering their full range of legal Journals ABSOLUTELY FREE with NO STRINGS ATTACHED for three months
Click here to register

Social Care Law Today
Journal of Community Care Law
Journal of Social Housing Law
The Mental Health Law Review
Journal of Welfare Benefits Law

View the publications here

Law Review: Conduct unbecoming – Human Rights: From Europe to the UK

CC partner charged with assaulting girlfriend in Gleneagles Hotel

The Lawyer reports: CC partner charged with assaulting girlfriend in Gleneagles Hotel. Clifford Chance Japan corporate head Alan Kitchin has been charged assaulting his partner at Scotland’s Gleneagles Hotel.The Tokyo-based lawyer allegedly injured Misato Yoshida after punching her in the face during a stay at the hotel in June, according to a report the Sunday Mail. Kitchin, who joined the magic circle firm earlier this year having spent more than 20 years as a partner at Ashurst, denies the charge and will now stand trial in November.”

It would seem that The Gleneagles Hotel is attracting very much the right type of guest…. The Lawyer notes: “This is not the first time that a lawyer has faced charges over their behaviour at the exclusive Perthshire hotel. In 2008, former Dickson Minto property partner Philip Anderson pleaded guilty to two criminal acts after exposing himself to a female companion in the hotel’s restaurant. He was later fined £300.”

Is there a UK law against ‘cruel and unusual punishment’?

The Guardian: Shadowfirebird wants to know what constitutes ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ and whether it is disallowed in this country.

Shadowfirebird asks:

“Do we have in this country a principle of disallowing cruel and unusual punishment, and if so, what constitutes “cruel and unusual”? For example, is it cruel or unusual to specify as a condition of your release that you must tell anyone you enter into a relationship with your true identity – when it seems almost certain that this will end the relationship, and threaten your life at the same time?”

The term “cruel and unusual punishment” comes from the eighth amendment to the US constitution . We have no law that uses those exact terms. What we do have is article 3 of the European convention on human rights, now part of our law by virtue of the Human Rights Act, which states: “No one shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Human rights: from Europe to the UK

Guardian: Government report highlights vexed issue of implementation of European human rights judgments in domestic law

Harvard Prof Sees Legal Profession in Turmoil

ABA Journal: The legal profession is “seeing the acceleration of large-scale trends which were accentuated [by the recession]. They will have a profound impact on all lawyers’ practices and how we regulate, compensate and train lawyers,” Harvard Law School professor David B. Wilkins told the ABA House of Delegates on Monday.

“We’re much less in control—[lawyers] used to control pretty much everything,” Wilkins said. “Today, in many areas, the state actively intervenes in the way the profession operates.” He cited the Korean government, which made the Korean bar increase the number of lawyers it trains each year.

Law Review: The RTA claims process- counting the cost, two months in

GUEST POST

The RTA claims process- counting the cost, two months in

By Stephen Higham, solicitor

I have previously blogged unfavourably about the new claims process for road traffic accidents. Just over 2 months in, how is it going?

According to a report from 5 July 2010, 52,800 new claims have now been uploaded to the internet based ‘portal’ in just over 2 months. There are 1,760 claimant representatives registered, and over 230 insurers/ compensators on the system. So, by now, most solicitors and insurers are using the system.

As one such ‘claimant representative’, a personal injury solicitor with a significant road traffic accident claims department, I have had to deal with significant obstacles to prepare my firm for the changes. As guidance was thin on the ground, I attended an all day training course, and then spent weeks learning and interpreting the new rules, computer processes etc. in order to train my staff. This process is still ongoing.

My firm, like many others, uses a complicated computer system to manage claims as efficiently as possible. The system is supposed to be able to ‘talk’ to the government backed internet portal to avoid duplication of work. However, due to delays with the government’s IT suppliers, we have yet to receive our log-in codes to enable us to use the new system we have already paid for, resulting in wasted time and resources.

Not unsurprisingly, as the majority of claims are at the earliest stage, the bulk of the work has fallen on claimants’ solicitors (like me); not those who were campaigning for the change (the insurers).

Our clients, the innocent accident victims, are also complaining about the extra paperwork and the implication that they are dishonestly claiming compensation. They have to sign and return the initial Claims Notification Form, stating that ‘I am the Claimant – I believe that the facts stated in this claim form are true’, before we can upload it to the portal. This is intended to protect against fraud, but did anyone involved in the drafting really believe that signing a box on a form would do that?

The insurers got their way in respect of costs too. By persuading the government that the new system would be easier and cheaper, they convinced them to cut the costs paid to the claimant’s solicitors to reduced fixed fees, the first of which are now starting to come through. We are now being paid significantly less for doing more. We have already started to make cutbacks in non-essential areas which do not affect clients, but it remains to be seen what long term impact this scheme will have.

The coalition government has more important things on its mind right now but I would hope that, in the fullness of time, this inadequate and expensive scheme will go the way of the equally pointless Home Information Packs, which were suspended as one of the government’s first acts in early May 2010.  This is a waste of time, money and paper, none of which impact on insurers and their shareholders, all of which affect innocent accident victims and their solicitors.

F**kART: A study in ‘Real Politik’

A study in ‘Real Politik’ (2010)
Charon
Painting by Numbers in Acrylics on canvas board from a photograph

Charon demonstrates here a technique not often used by artists these days. In the good old days the artist would have hidden himself in a darkened room and used a Camera ObscuraCharon did not wish to paint while hanging upside down like Holbein , so used 21st century techniques to roughly the same effect…except he made it even simpler for himself.  Here,  he takes a photograph from the net of a popular politician, faffs about in Photoshop to make it easier to paint later, and then, using a restricted colour palette and a ‘painting by numbers’ technique, produces a graphic image of a popular politician in the prime of his decline.  It was then a relatively simple matter to stick a speech bubble on with glue.    It may be that this ‘work’ will attract international interest and will be priced accordingly when Charon returns from the bar in Chelsea where he has now gone to reflect upon the meaning of art, life and the text he had from a well known footballer who sent him a picture of his penis.  As I am neither gay nor a football fan I can only assume that the footballer is (a) both (b) thinks I sing in a girl band or (c) can’t work his mobile.

Postcard from the Staterooms: Duke of Edinburgh and CMS Camerons edition.

Dear Reader,

Despite my mild republican sentiments, I am, in fact, a fan of The Queen and I have always enjoyed reports about The Duke of Edinburgh’s more extreme humour.  The Duke’s rather surreal and dry humour is well documented.… I always enjoyed this one for spectacular bad taste…

“Do you still throw spears at each other?” Said in 2002 to a Indigenous Australian businessman.

“Ah good, there’s so many over there you feel they breed them just to put in orphanages.” Said while presenting a Duke of Edinburgh Award to a student. When informed that the young man was going to help out in Romania for six months, he asked if the student was going to help the Romanian orphans and was told that he was not.

The Daily Mash reports that David Cameron has been taking advice from The Duke of Edinburgh.

Camerons invites clients to pay what they want for legal work

The Lawyer reports: “CMS Cameron McKenna has launched a marketing campaign to promote its alternative billing structures, which include a ‘pay what you think its worth’ option, to clients.”

I rather enjoyed this from the article comments section….
Radiohead of The Law Firm World | 5-Aug-2010 3:37 pm

Hi Duncan
I am the CEO of a large Fortune company contemplating a hostile takeover of a major Chinese rival. Our combined market cap is around USD80bn.
Can you handle the M&A work, plus any associated merger filings, and regulatory issues.
I’ll give you a fiver and a bag of revels.

RollonFriday reports: “French court ruling hits law firms
06 August 2010

The major law firms with offices in France may find themselves on the hook for millions, after Allen & Overy was ordered to pay damages to one of its former Paris associates.

As previously reported on RollOnFriday, A&O was taken to court by a capital markets lawyer who’d been given the chop last year. The firm argued that he was self-employed, and as such wasn’t entitled to the huge benefits that accrue under French employment law. However the associate argued that in fact he was a full time employee – and the court has now agreed and ordered A&O to cough up. A spokesman for firm admitted that “the court found in favour of the associate and the matter has now been settled“.

There is always an element of schadenfreude in reading of law firms losing cases of their own……  not, I would have thought, great marketing?

Oh dear….

Watchdog asked to investigate claims Nick Clegg misled parliament

The Guardian reports: “Labour MPs say Clegg covered up information surrounding the £80m loan for Sheffield Forgemasters. The parliamentary standards watchdog has been asked to investigate allegations that Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, misled MPs over the reasons for cancelling an £80m government loan to Sheffield Forgemasters and then tried to cover it up.”

The White Rabbit writes a wonderful mini monograph…

Saturday lunchtime in Birmingham…

Regular readers will know that I read Guido Fawkes fairly regularly – many do, for good reason. Guido has an excellent series going on at the moment *Ed Balls Campaign Diary*.   Here is the latest instalment I have found. I am enjoying it.

Well…. August continues to be fairly empty of law, client work etc etc  and I am enjoying it. I even enjoyed hiding under the umbrella at the cafe bar in Battersea Square today… moving from table 14 to table 15 to avoid the dramatic rains which lasted half an hour.  There was a group of very amusing people under the awning who were there at 12.00 when I arrived for coffee and a glass of vino and still there when I returned at 6.00 for another coffee and a glass…  Way to go!

Best, as ever

Charon

Charon deals with cold callers: 101

Caller: Can I speak to Charon please?

Charon: Speaking.

Caller: You are Charon of The Staterooms, Battersea?

Charon: Yes…and you are?

Caller: We are doing conservatories in your area and wondered if you would be interested in hearing about the opportunity we can give you.

Charon: Yes, but you do realise that I am a lawyer and I charge everyone for my time?  I’ve just started the time clock running.  Can you provide your credit card or AMEX card details, please?

Caller: Sorry?  I’m not with you.

Charon: It is perfectly straightforward.  I am a lawyer.  I charge for my time.  Nothing in this world I live in is free.  You called me up to ask if you could speak to me – ergo, you want to buy some of my time.  Time is money.  I take money. In fact, I have a most useful device from Barclays which allows me to take money from your account and put it straight into my account. Can you provide your credit card or AMEX card details, please?

Caller: I’m not sure I understand…you want to charge me money to listen to what I have to tell you?

Charon: Bingo!

Caller: Bingo?

Charon: Bingo!…yes, you have understood the position perfectly. Can you provide your credit card or AMEX card details, please?

Caller: This is ridiculous…..

Charon: What is ridiculous?

Caller: That you want to charge me for calling you.

Charon: I don’t see what is ridiculous about it.  I have to make a living, as you do.  I didn’t call you.  You called me to ask if I would listen to you tell me about conservatories.  I said that I was happy to do this, warned you that I am a lawyer and charge for my time, and then asked you for your card details so that you can pay my fees for listening to you.

Caller: This is mad.

Charon: Mad?  Fortunately this call is not being broadcast for you have just slandered me by calling me mad and as I’ve just finished writing a chapter on the law of defamation for my new Tort book, I’m fairly well up on libel.

Caller: I haven’t libelled you.

Charon: Technically, because there is no publication to a third party in this instance, you have not libelled, but calling me ‘mad’ when I am not, could found an action in defamation, had I been broadcasting this conversation; one which even in these anti-libel days we live in I may well have won.

Caller: This is now getting more ridiculous…. I am terminating the call.

Charon: Did I tell you that I am on the third floor of a block of flats?  I assumed, given your thorough market research, you were aware of this.  In the circumstances, I was fascinated to hear how you were going to build a conservatory for me.  I haven’t seen many conservatories hanging off the side of mansion block buildings.   I was genuinely keen to learn….

Caller: CLICK

Based, very closely, on a real event! The actual call was about ten minutes and the caller got more and more frustrated.  I don’t really like cold callers.  (The tache has gone!)

It is Saturday…. Bonjour!

There are never many people up when I have breakfast on Saturdays at a cafe near Battersea Bridge.  I am always able to get a table outside – possibly because I fall in the door when it opens at 7.30.  After an amusing and enjoyable day yesterday, followed by an evening faffing about on twitter and on my blog, I deserved a mild hangover but, this morning, clear as a bell.

Clarkson is always an enjoyable read and this morning, inter alia, he drew my attention to the fact that the A level results are out soon with the wonderful observation that some poor souls are going to get results which spell words like DUDE and BEEF.  Having been involved in law teaching and publishing for 30 years I should have had the grace not to laugh. But I did, rather loudly, giving the appearance to a woman sitting two tables down that I may be an ‘eccentric shouter’.

Today, I shall hunt for some law to write about – and while I do this, I may just treat myself to a glass of chilled red wine.  Back later.

Rive gauche: President of Pakistan puts David Cameron right……

Meanwhile… over at the Cricket…. which, thankfully, is free of political ‘nuance’…. Second Test, Edgbaston (day one, close): England 112-2 v Pakistan 72 (all out)

I returned from a very enjoyable lunch with a friend to find that Tom Harris MP had tweeted that he is on Newsnight tonight. Given recent events I asked Tom if he might help us all… BIG Society etc…. by asking…  (I suspect that Tom has more pressing matters to raise on Newsnight…. but we are all in this together)……

And it being Friday… and time for a bit of *Rive Gauche*…


Blog spam – a study in invention

Most bloggers will be used to an astonishing range of spam and the inventive (and, frankly, moronic ) souls who think that  writing comments to blog posts along the lines of….

Amazing page! I haven’t noticed charonqc.wordpress.com before in my surfing!
Keep up the hard work! I think this video might be interesting for your visitors:…. yada yada yada…..

will get approved…and not be deleted manually…even if they survive the quite efficient spam filters now being used by WordPress et al.

I have a policy of linking spammers who want a free ride  (Some law firms, law services operations etc etc etc)  to porno sites – but I can’t do that for spammers from porno sites…… well…. I suppose I could send their market to competitor porno sites.. but that is not so much fun.

I just could not resist sharing this most inventive post….received earlier:

Breaking Britain News: PM says Iran has Nuclear BOMB shock horror!

David Cameron accused by Labour of Iran nuclear ‘gaffe’

The British Broadcasting Corporation reports:

Labour has accused David Cameron of committing a gaffe by mistakenly claiming Iran has a nuclear weapon.

Asked why he was backing Turkey to join the EU he said it could help solve the world’s problems, “like the Middle East peace process, like the fact that Iran has got a nuclear weapon”.

Downing Street said the prime minister “misspoke”.

But Shadow Europe Minister Chris Bryant said he was becoming a “foreign policy klutz”.

Law Review: Oh What a beautiful ASBO – Lord Prezza at Chilcott Inquiry

Singing pensioner faces jail after breaching Asbo

A pensioner who has terrorised his neighbours for 15 years faces prison after breaching an Asbo by singing ‘Oh What a Beautiful Morning’ outside their homes.

I can do no better than quote from The Telegraph report: Richard Dawe, 76, also threatened a neighbour saying he was going to ”get him” and called another woman living nearby ”slit eyes”. He had previously sang ‘Everything’s Going My Way’ by The Queers and Tom Jones’ ‘My Delila’, used his sheep dogs to ‘herd’ an elderly resident and once goose-stepped up an ant hill shouting ”The Don rules”.

I have a horrible feeling I will be doing this sort of thing when I am 76…

Prezza goes to Chilcott Inquiry!

Reading Private Eye at Table 14 in The Square this lunchtime my attention was taken by their report on Lord Prescott’s appearance at the Chilcott Inquiry.  I fully admit that my caption today was entirely inspired by Private Eye… but I have been reading the Eye since 1967 ish so I hope they won’t mind on this occasion…

I have now read the entire transcript of Lord Prescott’s evidence.  It really is quite a remarkable document…… the usual Prezza mangling style is evident in parts and in other parts it is just surreal….

I rather liked this exchange….

BARONESS PRASHAR: Thank you. Lord Prescott, when did you
personally first become aware of the discussions between the President and Prime Minister that might lead to the removal of Saddam Hussein?

RT. HON THE LORD PRESCOTT: Well, I think the first awareness was when I visited the United States —

BARONESS PRASHAR: That was when?

RT. HON  THE LORD PRESCOTT: Just a couple of days after 9/11. I had a meeting with Mr Cheney, the Vice-President, and I can recall the meeting, because him and the President were being hidden in different parts of the UK and I had to conduct my interview by a video screen.

BARONESS PRASHAR: You mean different parts of the USA?

RT. HON. THE LORD PRESCOTT: Yes. Sorry. Thank you. I had to do it by a video screen. I couldn’t help but point out that perhaps he was hiding in the cave that was probably more luxurious than Bin Laden, but in going to America at that time I talked to a number of my senator friends, Democrat ones, and I was absolutely surprised to find them talking about an aggressive attitude, that Iraq was unfinished business..

There is a wonderful exchange on the issue of the advice on legality  of the war from the  Attorney-General  where Prezza refers to the attorney-general as being an ‘unhappy bunny’.It is worth a quick read if you have an interest in knowing the inner mind of the then deputy prime Minister at this time.

***

And since it is the silly season.. this is wonderful  HT to @Pam_Nash on twitter

British Gas customer wins £2,000 payment for ‘wasted time’

Self-employed workers have been advised to bill utility companies if the firms waste their time, after a British Gas customer won a £2,000 pay out.

Telegraph: Consumer experts have told customers that they should keep detailed records of telephone calls made and letters sent to broadband, gas or electricity companies. If the customer is forced to spend serious amounts of time sorting out problems caused by the companies, they should attempt to bill them for loss of earnings.

The advice comes after Barry Payling was paid more than £2,000 by British Gas, after he threatened the company with court action following two years of disputes.

Law Review: Judge’s fury at ‘insolent’ defendant

The Telegraph reports: “Recorder Alun Jenkins QC warned barristers that any young defendants who fail to address him properly may be locked away immediately with their cases suspended. The judge’s comments came after he vented his frustration at a 24-year-old car thief who had pushed him to breaking point by repeatedly answering “yep” when questioned at Gloucester Crown Court.

“….the judge warned barristers in court that a lack of respect would no longer be tolerated.

He said: “What I observed yesterday was a defendant who appeared to me to be insolent.

“Dumb insolence is a wonderful military offence that allows you to put them on a charge without them uttering a word. I haven’t got such a power in this court but there is clearly a lack of respect going on which needs to be addressed.”

Recorder Jenkins, an experienced barrister who has been sitting as a part-time judge since 1993, continued: “Defendants will call me ‘Sir’ or ‘Your Honour’. I don’t mind which because I don’t stand on ceremony.

“But they will show respect. I would like you to pass that down to all advocates and defendants.

“Any lack of respect will result in the case being put back with the defendant put in custody to consider his position.”

I can well understand the Recorder’s frustration – but banging someone up with their case suspended could well make matters a whole lot worse? Not being a judge or magistrate I can’t really comment from that perspective but I do know that ‘insolence’ is best dealt with by ignoring it. I would have thought it best, in the presumably fairly rare cases where defendants don’t show respect to the court, to simply proceed and not give them the satisfaction of knowing they have managed to irritate the bench? Perhaps those of you who sit in a judicial capacity would like to express a view? I can just picture the ridicule, press and twitter comment if a judge ‘lost it’ in court.  It would be interesting to see the statute or criminal provision requiring defendants to say ‘Yes’ instead of ‘Yep!’  Perhaps it is buried away somewhere in our common law?

I could only find one Alun Jenkins QC on Google.   Maybe this is not he of the story above?  Maybe this is him? I think they are one and the same… yep…. pretty sure of that. But is it Recorder Jenkins? Justice…after all… must be seen to be done.  Yep / Nah?

Inevitably, a response from Twitter…. @AlJahom has a point, of course.. whereas…  I am on holiday… mea culpa

I am grateful to @TheFirmOnline for this gem…

Swearing man escapes fine

The BBC reports in 2001: A man who was fined for swearing at police has been cleared after appeal judges ruled that he was using “the language of his generation”.

Kenneth Kinnaird, 43, of Baillieston, Glasgow, was charged with breach of the peace and resisting arrest after he told two police officers who stopped him to “f*** off”.

BREAKING NEWS: I have been advised by @loveandgarbage that the above “F**k off” case  is not cut and dried.  See para 5 of this law report (a very short judgment – admirable brevity!)

A load of old bull…..

All day on BBC radio – and, I suspect, on the TV news –  the BBC has been covering this story about a cloned bull from America getting into the food chain.  Apparently, the Yanks are allowed to clone bull, but we, in Britain, despite our quite obvious expertise in matters of bull, are not allowed to do so so.  The Daily Mail, naturally, has been giving the blazer wearers of Britain something to chatter about at golf clubs

Well…. I have solved the problem.  I have eaten the bugger….so Britain is safe again.

I shall be returning to analysis of more serious matters shortly……

Law Review: Chilcott – a view on legality of war?

The Guardian published a short article by Louis Blom-Cooper QC this morning…. I quote it in full because it is an important point of view.

Jonathan Steele tells us (Iraq’s missing witnesses, 2 August) that the Chilcot inquiry in its report will not be providing any definitive judgment on the legality of the Iraq war in 2003 because “it [the inquiry] is not a court of law”. While it is indisputably true that any civil or criminal liability for going to war would be a matter exclusively for courts with the jurisdiction and power to determine any legal responsibility, the public inquiry is not debarred from stating authoritatively the status of the invasion of Iraq under international law. More specifically, the inquiry in its primary function of finding all the relevant facts must not be inhibited from doing so, even if, in its findings, it would be inferring blameworthiness on the part of any person, corporate or personal. That would be a legitimate secondary function for the inquiry.

If, for example, John Chilcot and his fellow panel members conclude that, in the weeks before the invasion, the attorney general (Peter Goldsmith QC) had unequivocally told the Blair cabinet that to go to war with Iraq would be illegal under international law without further coverage from a UN resolution, they should say so, without qualification. It would be just as important that, should they find also that between 7 and 17 March 2003 Goldsmith appeared to change his opinion and advice to cabinet, and, if so, why he did, the inquiry should say so. And they should indicate whether he was right or wrong on either occasion. Nothing along these lines would in any way constitute a usurpation of the function of any court which may or may not in the future be entrusted with the task of determining civil or criminal liability for the war. But the public interest in a thorough examination and unbiased report demands no less than a determination of legality at any stage in the process leading up to and involving the invasion.

Louis Blom-Cooper QC

There are many lawyers who expressed concern – at the time and later as evidence came out during the Chilcott Inquiry –  that the war in Iraq was not in compliance with International Law.

A simple, but tripartite, question which I do not know the answer to, so I invite comment:  (a) What is the ‘international’ validity of International Law?  (b) Did we break it? and (c) Why should we abide by international law when other nations do not do so?

//

Law Review: I do like the smell of ranks closing, restrictive practices and hypocrisy in the morning…..

IoP backs Law Soc’s bid to create paralegal qualification

The Lawyer reports: The Institute of Paralegals (IoP) has pledged its support for a new study commissioned by The Law Society into the provision of a qualification for paralegals.

Former senior civil servant within the Ministry of Justice Nick Smedley has been commissioned to undertake a study into whether the Law Society should develop or endorse qualifications for paralegals.

IoP’s chief executive James O’Connell said: “This a very positive step for the future of paralegals in this country. They are often undertrained and underrecognised and being recognised by such a big player as the Law Society is just the type of backing the profession needs.”

Bob Heslett, the former Law Society President who commissioned the study, said the review was particularly important because there were more paralegals in the market than ever before.

I enjoyed this comment posted below the article from The Lawyer…

Anonymous | 30-Jul-2010 12:56 pm

Does anyone know the difference between the national institute of paralegals (nips?), the licensed instutute of paralegals, the national paralegal institute and the association of national paralegals? I’m getting really confused. Do they have many members? I suppose ILEx has been around for a long while and appears to be credible, so maybe they’re the people whose view should be sought.

But then things got really interesting…. when this post appeared…

Amanda Hamilton Chief Executive, NALP | 2-Aug-2010 1:30 pm

Referring to ‘Anonymous’ (30th July 12.56pm), we would like to point out that there are no such organisations as ‘The Licensed Institute of Paralegals’, ‘The National Paralegal Institute’ or the ‘Association of National Paralegals’.
There are only two professional bodies for paralegals: The NALP (The National Association of Licensed Paralegals) is the leading body and has been established for 23 years. The other is The Institute of Paralegals (IoP) formerly known as The Paralegal Association and formed around 2004.
We would also like to point out that the IOP’s ‘national framework’ is not the first ever framework for a paralegal career. The NALP has run one since 1989. It has been the forerunner for paralegal career development and its foundation qualification, the Higher Diploma in Paralegal Studies, has been (in the recent past) nationally accredited and recognised by The National Open College Network from 1995- 2002 and has been run by Further Education Colleges up and down the country.
More importantly NALP has recently gained Awarding Body accreditation and status from the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator (OfQUAL), the watchdog for qualifications in England. Furthermore the NALP’s Post Graduate Diploma in Paralegal Practice (the PPC), is specifically designed for Law Graduates to enable them to obtain the necessary understanding of legal practice (because a Law Degree does not cover any of it), has been successfully running for ten years and the NALP Higher Diploma (procedural law content) been incorporated (as an option) in Sunderland University’s Law Degree Programme for the past six years. NALP will of course be working closely with The Law Society in connection with its proposed study and is already working with Skills For Justice in a similar vain. Those persons who have responded negatively, above, to the need for Paralegals to be qualified are either not in the profession or do not want to improve their careers. Qualifications are very necessary as the majority of Paralegals do virtually the same work as Solicitors. The ‘pen pushing office fodder’ referred to by some are not Paralegals but merely administrative clerks.

I don’t suppose I helped much when I added to the debate by asking in the comments section (not published at the time of writing by The Lawyer) if anyone is going to set up a National Institute for…

The ‘pen pushing office fodder’ referred to by some are not Paralegals but merely administrative clerks.”….

Sometimes I sit here at my desk and wonder why Law is important. I think Jack Straw had a point when he said, in his capacity as Lord Chancellor some time ago, that ‘The Law’ is not here for lawyers to make a business out of..

I have said this before but no-one is interested….. and why should they be? We have too many young lawyers because we have too many law schools and colleges pumping out  young people (and some not so young) with law degrees and other qualifications.   These law schools and colleges are doing just fine – for the moment.  The top universities are not to blame, nor the leading LPC/BVC providers  – we need good law students coming through – just not so many of them?

We have too many people with legal qualifications – from professional to paralegal –  coming through. The profession can’t take them all in, so a lot of young people (and some not so young)  can’t get training contracts or pupillages.  Some of these people  take on work as paralegals – not exactly or always a direct route to practice as a lawyer.  Law firms have a tendency, I am advised by those who have done  paralegal work,  to be quite happy to pay less for paralegals and do not always encourage them to ‘go further’ and qualify as solicitors or read for the Bar.

Unfortunately, there are not enough jobs for all these people with legal training at the various levels… and, I suspect, it will only get worse….. I quote from the words of a former President of The Law Society…

Bob Heslett, the former Law Society President who commissioned the study, said the review was particularly important because there were more paralegals in the market than ever before.

But…. who am I… who are ‘we’ to be critical of the new era of free markets, new universities, academies, Big Society and a land dripping with honey…after we have all taken our medicine from Nanny Doubtfire and his mate, Clegg?

I do like the smell of ranks closing, restrictive practices and hypocrisy  in the morning…..

Of course… as ever… I could have missed the point entirely.  Your thoughts would be most welcome, as always.  If I have got it wrong… I would be delighted to hear it…..

Silly season has started – so far so good!

Holidaying in Battersea – but actually doing some work.  I am looking forward to Labour actually electing a new leader so we can have a bit of Opposition.  I have no idea why I thought of Egypt today – apart from the fact that it is a wonderful place to visit for both the modern day and the history – and I was pleased to see that Tom Harris MP, at least, enjoyed my tweet by doing an RT!

My holiday continues….. such as it is… given that Table 14 is but 100 yards away from my flat!

Law Review: Campaigners try to force MoD to court over Afghan killings

Campaigners try to force MoD to court over Afghan killings

Move follows last week’s disclosure of a series of civilian shootings on WikiLeaks

The Guardian reports: The prospect of a judicial review into previously covered-up civilian shootings in Afghanistan has opened up after human rights campaigners launched an attempt to take the Ministry of Defence to court.

This follows the disclosure in the Guardian that a series of unusual civilian shootings involving two British army units, are documented in last week’s WikiLeaks publication of thousands of leaked US military files.

A formal letter was sent to the defence secretary, Liam Fox, at the weekend by a lawyer, Phil Shiner, on behalf of the peace campaigner Maya Evans. Shiner said: “I am sure we will be able to get this into court.”

The campaigners say the killings “require to be investigated as suspected war crimes” under the legislation that set up the international criminal court. They call on the MoD to conduct a proper investigation of the allegations.

Since the details of civilian shootings recorded in the war logs were revealed, MoD officials have not disputed their general accuracy, but ministers have failed to give any explanation, or order any public investigation.

Postcard from The Staterooms

With Parliament in recess and the Law ‘Long vacation’ upon us, there won’t be a lot of law for me to write about, so I shall strike while the iron is still hot with this story from the Supreme Court…

Cuts ‘would close supreme court’

Guardian: Chief executive warns public spending cuts of 40% would mean court ‘couldn’t actually deal with any casework’  “At a press conference to mark a first legal year for the highest court in the country, Jenny Rowe said: “As 62% of our costs are genuinely fixed, a 40% cut causes us some problems. We couldn’t actually deal with any casework, in fact, with a 40% cut.” Rowe said that casework was a “priority” for the court, but that after being asked to come up with scenarios of cuts of 25 and 40%, its education and outreach projects looked most vulnerable. Since its launch in October last year, the supreme court has heard a total of 67 appeals and handed down 62 judgments.”

I met Jenny Rowe last summer.  In fact, I enjoyed doing  a podcast with her on the work of the new Supreme Court.

Clearly, we can’t have a situation where the 40% cut requirement brings about a situation where the highest court in the land continues to exist but can’t actually hear any cases.  Even the most repressive of Lord Chancellors  – and Michael Howard, a former Home Secretary, now appearing regularly in ermine in the Lords doing… I know not what…nor care to find out – would pull that stunt.   I have read most of the 62 judgments handed down by the Supreme Court this year.  The new news summaries, the reports being published immediately and the excellent UKCS blog has made a big difference to access to information.  (I have updated the UKSC URL!  My error – I used the old one)

It would be interesting to hear from practitioners who have appeared before the Supreme Court to hear their views.

I can understand the need to close some magistrates courts.  I can understand why – but do not approve of – cuts to the legal aid budget are being made, but if we are to have a meaningful legal system, a strong Supreme Court to administer justice for the people of the United Kingdom (It is not as if the Supreme Court judges are paid fantastic sums of money – they aren’t and most lawyers take significant ‘pay cuts’ when they become judges), we have to resource it.

Lord Hope, deputy president of the court and one of the most senior judges in the UK, said the public had gained since the court’s establishment.

“Our concern is that having started on this enterprise … we should be able to sustain that operation,” he said. “It’s a quite different operation from what we had before [in the House of Lords]. It’s one which can’t be maintained without resources.”

It would be interesting to hear from practitioners who have appeared before the Supreme Court to hear their views.

It takes a fair degree of skill to piss off both Jews and Muslims but David Cameron has pulled the double off with his remarks about Israel and Pakistan. Did he ‘mis-speak’? or was this a well scripted intentional statement?  I can only presume the latter – in which case, bravo, as I think it is high time we had a Prime Minister who is direct.  I rather like the idea also, instead of High Commissioners and Ambassadors coming from the ranks of trained diplomats that we let a few businessmen and assorted hedgies, bankers and ponzi scheme organisers to represent Britain’s interests abroad and drum up some business.

As I find it impossible to take PCSOs seriously – I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful parody. Hat Tip to @OldHolborn for the tip-off.  Wonderful film!

Just a quickie today… I am holidaying at Table 14 at Riviera on Battersea Square at various times during the day and shall be so for the next week.  Indeed, I had a most enjoyable drink or two with The White Rabbit last night and, curiously, we even managed to debate politics and consider the historical position of the Labour party and reflect on the coalition.  More worryingly, we both seemed to come to the conclusion that the Coalition is doing good work on civil liberties, removal of ASBOS and prison policy – but we did manage to express reservations about Osbore and his CUTS policies.  We have not turned into Coalitionites….  The White Rabbit’s blog is always worth a look.  No law on it, though…..!

Best as ever

Charon